Your big dome is always the first thing I catch a glimpse of as I make my way along Eutaw Place from State Center. The texture created by the clay tiles, the slight flare at the eave, and the rich patina of the surrounding metal intrigued me. I’ve driven by you for years not knowing your history. A synagogue for sure, but was that still your purpose?
I finally stopped to take a look. Details in the stone and metal appear that are not readily seen from inside a passing car. Everything from the beautifully carved white marble to the architectural details of the two towers made me want to learn more. And learn more I did!
Taking the lettering on the arch above the door and the bronze plaque outside, I did a little online digging. I found out you were originally designed by Joseph Evans Sperry in the style of the Great Synagogue in Florence, and built in 1891-92 for the Oheb Shalom congregation, which was made up of German Jewish who settled in this neighborhood. Then, in 1960, you were bought by the Prince Hall Masons of Maryland, a group formed by the first African-American free mason groups in Maryland. Who knew?
Now all I can hope for is to sometime see the interior. Until then…
Sharon Day, AIA
Sharon is an architect at GWWO Inc./Architects. What she loves about Baltimore is the little gems you can find around the city when you are least expecting it.
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