Groundbreaking at the Tenement Museum’s New Visitors Center

Tenement Museum VIP's, members of Levy family, Borough President Scott Stringer at today's groundbreaking

A short time ago, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum held a “groundbreaking” ceremony for its new Visitors & Education Center at 103 Orchard Street. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer was on hand for the announcement, along with other city officials.  The new digs, just across the street from the current visitors center, will be called the Sadie Samuelson Levy Immigrant Heritage Center.

103 Orchard was bought several years ago with the help of the Leon Levy Foundation. The center is being named after Levy’s grandmother. Members of the family were in attendance today, including Shelby White, Leon Levy’s wife.

Tenement Museum Board Chair Bruce Menin noted the extraordinary efforts that were required to get this far with the project, in tough economic times. It is a testament, he said, to the museum’s dedicated staff and supporters. The center is expected to cost around $13 million. In December, Barry Roseman, the museum’s executive vice president, told us a grant from the city, a private bank loan and the museum’s capital fund were being used to pay design and construction costs.

The center will include an auditorium, performance space, visitor center, exhibition galleries and museum shop. There will also be a space for cooking demos! Sadie Samuelson Levy was the daughter of an immigrant cloak seller who came to the Lower East Side in 1869. Stringer called the museum “a treasure.” He recalled his own Jewish and Irish roots — his grandma marrying “Sam the butcher.”

Once the center is finished, the museum will give up the space it’s renting across the street. Take a look at the renderings below: