The Arty Semite

Buffalo’s Oldest Synagogue May Be Destroyed

By Samuel D. Gruber

  • Print
  • Share Share

Crossposted from Samuel Gruber’s Jewish Art and Monuments

David Torke

The former Ahavath Sholom Synagogue at 407 Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, N.Y., built in 1903, is threatened with demolition. The building is one of the last standing synagogue of the “facade-dome” type that was popular at the end of the 19th century.

Jewish use of the building ended in the 1960s, and it became home to the Greater New Hope Church of God in Christ. The structure is now empty and in disrepair. Time may not be long for the building, but local efforts to save it may yet stave off the wrecking ball.

According to the blog fixBuffalo:

In December, Housing Court Judge Patrick Carney issued an order to demolish the City’s oldest synagogue, one of the last remaining vestiges of Jewish life on the City’s East Side. The familiar onion domed landmark on Jefferson Avenue was designed by A. E. Minks and Sons and built in 1903. With the cooperation of Rev. Jerome Ferrell and his congregation, the Greater New Hope Church of God in Christ, this historic structure was designated a local landmark by the City’s Preservation Board in 1997.

Architecturally, the building is notable for its single onion style dome set over the central entrance bay of the facade. Variations of this type are found in European synagogue architecture beginning in the mid-19th century. One example is the destroyed synagogue of Jelgava, Latvia. The style was especially common in Moorish-type buildings, including Ahavath Sholom. Major American examples include Temple Sinai in Chicago and Temple Beth El in New York, both of which were demolished decades ago. Tiny Gemiluth Chassed in Port Gibson, Mississippi survives.

The Ahavath Sholom building was designated a local protected site in 1997, but that did not lead to its restoration. The building is clearly eligible for National Register listing, and preservationists plan to submit a nomination form to the state soon. National Register designation can be crucial for a variety of government grants and tax credits for any restoration or redevelopment project.

You can read more about the synagogue in this article by Chana Kotzin from the February 10, 2012 issue of the Buffalo Jewish Review, and view photos of the building, as well as its original blueprints, here.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ahavath Sholom Synagogue, Synagogue Architecture, Restoration, Samuel D. Gruber, Architecture, Samuel Gruber's Jewish Art and Monuments

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.