Wednesday, January 7, 2009

LSS Fact of the Day

The changing sanctuary of the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

We have no pictures of the sanctuary of the Lloyd Street Synagogue until 1958, but the building changed many times in the 113 years before that. The congregations responded to changing fashion by decorating and redecorating, and they responded to changing needs by expanding and rearranging. At the dedication in 1845 a reporter for the Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser, described the building in this way:

“The main floor of the church it fitted up with pews, and has a gallery extending on three sides of the church appropriated entirely to the female portion of the congregation. The eastern wall has a round window filled with stained glass directly over the ark [cabinet containing the Torah]. The ark… is a semi-circular temple with Corinthian pillars and ribs, and carved ornaments on the roof and the tables of the law in front. The doors are enriched with carvings and slide on rollers around the curve of the sides. On each side of the ark is an elevated platform with rich finished arm chairs for the President and Vice President of the congregation. In front is the reading desk and seats for the readers, of solid walnut. The window over the ark bears [sic.] the shape of a double star, of the most beautiful variegated colors, illustrating the shield of David, in the centre of which is a representation of a Greecian [sic.] Corinthian Acanthus. The spaces between the points of the star are filled with Grecian leaves, the whole surrounded by a circle to correspond….The windows are tinted of a golden color and diffuse a warm glow of light in the interior. The interior wood work is painted of a warm drab color, and the walls and ceilings when dry are going to be finished in fresco.” (Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser, September, 1845)

The Occident also described the new synagogue in detail, admiring its beauty and only finding fault with the fact that the smallness of the space didn’t allow for a central bimah (raised platform from which the service is conducted).

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