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Thor Equities phone # dwarfs Shoot out the Star. Jan 1, 2009.  Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Thor Equities phone # dwarfs Shoot out the Star on Henderson Bldg. Jan 1, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

News to us: Joe Sitt, CEO of Thor Equities, the real estate speculator whose destruction of four historic buildings in Coney Island is currently underway, is into history after all! Today we learned that Sitt is president of a history museum. The Sephardic Heritage Museum, incorporated as a “non-profit or religious entity” in Delaware in 2005, had nearly $3 million in assets according to last year’s filing. The address listed for the museum is the same as Thor Equities office. The museum is not yet open to the public, we were told by a gentleman who answered the phone at a Lakeland, New Jersey number listed on the web. The filing states: “When the museum opens, it will maintain and publicly display objects of historical, cultural and religious significance to persons with Sephardic Jewish descent and their heritage.”

ATZ was tipped off to the existence of the fledgling museum via an invitation to a film screening at Lincoln Center that was forwarded by a reader. The invite says: Joseph J. Sitt & The Sephardic Heritage Museum present a premier screening of “The Syrian Jewish Community.” The first ever documentary film tracing our history. October 24, 2010. 6:00 PM screening of the film. LINCOLN CENTER, Avery Fisher Hall. Tickets on sale now $30 to $150. All proceeds go to The Sephardic Heritage Museum. All tickets are tax deductible.

Founding a museum and supporting a documentary film devoted to one’s heritage are commendable efforts. We just wish Joe Sitt showed a similar interest in the historical and cultural significance of Coney Island’s amusement district and the properties that he owns there. The Grashorn Building, Coney Island’s oldest structure, built in the 1880s; the 1923 Bank of Coney Island, the 1903 Shore Hotel and the former Henderson Music Hall have a date with the wrecking ball.

Grashorn Building in 1969. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

Coney Island's Oldest: Built in 1880s, Grashorn Building in 1969. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

In “Four Coney Island Buildings to Fall,” Friday’s Story of the Day on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s website, Thor spokesman Stefan Friedman said, “These are ramshackle structures, eyesores.” Historian Charles Denson countered by citing the Parachute Jump, which had been described by detractors as “an eyesore” and “dangerous” in the years prior to its rehab and landmark designation. In the article, Juan Rivero of Save Coney Island noted that an engineer has offered to assess the buildings’ structural integrity free of charge, if Thor Equities is willing to grant access to the buildings. How about it Joey Coney Island?

Related posts on ATZ…

December 27, 2010: Video:Tribute to the Henderson Theater by Charles Denson

September 12, 2010: Video: Coney Island’s Faber’s Fascination by Charles Denson

April 21, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Historic Buildings

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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