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Connecticut Attorney General Tong files injunction against demolition of Hartford funeral chapel

The Deborah Chapel located on the corner of Ward and Affleck Street in Hartford, Connecticut. The building is at the center of a debate between Connecticut Attorney General William Tong's office and Congregation Beth Israel.
Nirvani Williams
/
NEPM
The Deborah Chapel located on the corner of Ward and Affleck Street in Hartford, Connecticut. The building is at the center of a debate between Connecticut Attorney General William Tong's office and Congregation Beth Israel.

The office of Connecticut Attorney General William Tong filed an injunction Wednesday to prevent a West Hartford congregation from demolishing a historic funeral chapel.

This move by Tong comes after the congregation did not agree to postpone the chapel's March 21st demolition date. The chapel, known as the Deborah chapel, is located in Hartford's Beth Israel Cemetery.

Tong said while he understands the congregation’s perspective and the burden it puts on them, he sees the historic value of the building.

"We have to balance that with historic preservation and we have to balance that with the import of this building and what it means to the Jewish community at large and Connecticut and our history and preserving that history," he said.

Tong said the court should be scheduling a hearing soon. He said he wants to continue working with the congregation to find more viable options for preservation than demolition.

Scott Lewis, the co-chairman of the congregation's cemetery committee, said there is also a potential new buyer who might be willing to move the building.

The attorney representing Congregation Beth Israel declined to comment.

The Deborah chapel was added to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2022 last May.

Nirvani Williams covers socioeconomic disparities for New England Public Media, joining the news team in June 2021 through Report for America.