Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).
Remember: There will be no Thursday Doors post next week, August 18th!
Today I am featuring two former synagogues in the Clay Hill area of the City of Hartford, Connecticut. As with the synagogues we’ve seen before, these buildings no longer serve the Jewish community. As the members of this community moved out of Hartford, synagogues were constructed in Manchester and West Hartford. The first building was originally constructed as a synagogue. As in previous weeks, the text below is from the National Registry of Historic Places (NHRP) nomination form.
Beth Hamedrash Hagodol Synagogue, a two-story brick building, is located in a dense Hartford urban neighborhood. In its Romanesque Revival style, the central entrance of three doors is approached by wide steps and flanked by projecting towers, in a manner consistent with Connecticut synagogue development. The 58* x 79′ building faces west, close to the street, in the middle of the block. Its neighbors are three-story contemporary brick apartment houses of about the same height and setback.NRHP Registration Form, Multiple Property Listing – Historic Synagogues of Connecticut
The historic photograph shows the east end of the interior. A wooden railing with quatrefoil frieze between paneled posts separates the main space of the sanctuary from the area of the bimah, lectern, and ark. Traditionally, the platform that is the bimah was located in the center of the room so that the Torah, when read from the lectern on the bima, was surrounded by people. In the; typical revised arrangement, as found in Beth Hamedrash Hagodol, the bimah is grouped with the ark for convenience and the Torah is carried up and down the aisles to continue the tradition of being among the people.The ark, a large stepped cupboarc^, is elaborately decorated with painted panels of foliate and urn designs, gilded and marbleized. The wall behind the ark is embellished with a mural of the Road to Heaven and Noah’s Ark. Above is a second wheel window, similar to that on the facade, but with a Magen David in its center.
The ark has been removed from the building and is now in the collection of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford.
I included a screen shot of a map of the area. You will notice that the four churches I’ve presented so far are in close proximity. There are other churches in the area. I’ll be back for those.
The Mather Homestead is a two-story brick Greek Revival farmhouse built between 1835 and 1843. The building, though facing Mahl Avenue, originally had a Main Street address before Mahl Avenue was opened in 1893. … The setting of the Mather Homestead itself is still quite open; set above the. street at the brow of a low rise, it is flanked by empty houselots.NHRP nomination form
The building has gone through a major use transformation from residential to institutional, reflected in its appearance through the years. The exterior retains most of its original features, while the interior has been extensively altered. From its construction until 1926, it was a residence, from 1926.to 1954, a synagogue, and from 1954 to the present, a Masonic Lodge.
In November 1926, conversion to a synagogue began, the building was purchased on November 12, and on the 26th a permit for an addition was issued to builder L. Schwifiker. Exterior alterations consisted of a small, round-walled addition to the east wall for an ark to hold the Torah scrolls, changes to move the main entry from the central to the west bay of the main block, and a second-story. The Mather Homestead is significant because its history and architecture uniquely chronicle” a century-and-a–half of the socioeconomic history of Hartford’s North End. Four eras of neighborhood history are reflected in the building.
First, the house is a rare and fine representative of Hartford’s agricultural heritage; … Second, when the house and land became an entirely residential development in 1893, the homestead represented the transformation of Hartford’s outlying districts from farmland to suburb in response to the industrialization of the city. When converted to a synagogue in 1926, it marked the increasing ethnic diversity of the city and the decreasing dominance of the old Yankee families; this neighborhood, in particular, was a center of the Jewish community. The fourth, and most recent change in neighborhood and city character is reflected in the 1954 conversion to a Masonic Temple by a chapter of the black arm of the movement, the Prince Hall Masons.
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