Adath Jeshurun Congregation, East Liberty

Adath Jeshurun Congregation

Probably the most popular style of synagogue architecture in Pittsburgh a century ago was what we might call Jewish Romanesque, with the round arches typical of Romanesque architecture along with some elements taken from traditional European Jewish architecture to make it clear that this is not a Christian church. Here is a good but endangered example of that style.

Inscription over the enstrance

It was built in 1923 or 1924 on Margaretta Street, now East Liberty Boulevard, and its members knew it familiarly as the Margaretta Street Shul. The congregation sold the building in 1996 and moved to Monroeville, where it withered away a few years later. For a while after that this was a Baptist church; but it seems to be vacant now. That is the danger. Even in the most prosperous neighborhood, it can be hard to find a use for an old church or synagogue. This part of East Liberty is far from the worst neighborhood, but it has not reached the prosperity of Highland Park to the north or the newly lively core of East Liberty to the south. If the neighborhood stays as it is, this building will probably simply decay and eventually have to be demolished. If the neighborhood prospers, it will probably be demolished to make way for something else.

Structurally, the building seems quite sound. But the details are suffering, notably the crumbling parapet, which is one of the distinctive and remarkable features of the façade.

Crumbling parapet

Some interesting history of the congregation is in this article in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.

Inscription
Inscription
Adath Jeshurun Congregation

Torath Chaim Congregation, East Liberty

Some work has been going on at this abandoned synagogue, so perhaps it will find a new purpose. The abstract menorah (it once had electric light bulbs for candles) and irregular horizontal stone date it to the middle twentieth century. But although you wouldn’t know it from the front, this is really a luxurious early-1900s private house with a modernist façade grafted on.

Rodef Shalom Temple

Rodef Shalom Temple

One of Henry Hornbostel’s most impressive works, Rodef Shalom, built in 1906, is notable for its colored terra-cotta decorations, which—according to the interpretive sign on the temple grounds—were among the earliest uses of polychrome terra cotta in the United States.

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