On the other side of the street from the City Mission building (yesterday’s post) is the former Ados Israel synagogue at 215 Pearl Street in Hartford. Designed by Milton E. Haymon, the Georgian Revival structure was erected in 1924 for the First Unitarian Church. Hartford’s First Unitarian Society was formed in 1844 and had two previous churches/meetinghouses: the Unitarian Church of the Saviour (1846), which stood on Trumbull Street, and Unity Hall (1881) on Pratt Street. In 1962 the Unitarians sold the building on Pearl Street and in 1964 dedicated the new Unitarian Meeting House on Bloomfield Avenue.
Congregation Ados Israel, Hartford’s oldest Orthodox Jewish congregation, was first organized by Eastern European Jews in 1872. In 1898 the Congregation built a synagogue on Market Street. This architecturally impressive building was demolished in 1963 to make way for Constitution Plaza. Ados Israel then moved to the former Unitarian building on Pearl Street. Ados Israel was Hartford’s last synagogue when it closed in 1986. Neighboring TheaterWorks acquired the building in 2002.
The former Temple B’Nai Israel at 265 West Main Street in New Britain was built in 1927-1929 as a Masonic Temple. It was designed by architect Walter P. Crabtree. The Masons sold the building to the Jewish congregation Aheyu B’Nai Israel (Brethren Sons of Israel) in 1940. Aheyu B’Nai Israel was organized in 1889 as an Orthodox congregation, but reorganized as Conservative in 1924. Members who held to Orthodox views split off and built Tephereth Israel Synagogue. Temple B’Nai Israel closed in the summer of 2007. Its Torah scrolls were transferred to the Hillel organizations at Trinity College, the University of Hartford, and the University of Connecticut
Congregation Beth El in Norwalk was founded in 1934 as a Jewish Conservative Congregation. A religious school was established in 1938. The Congregation met at the Norwalk Jewish Center until constructing their own building at 109 East Avenue. Ground was broken for the new building on May 9, 1948 and the first two wings, for the school and an auditorium, were dedicated a year later. In 1954 the Sanctuary was completed.
The New Hope Missionary Baptist Church at 1100 Park Avenue in Bridgeport was built in 1911 as B’nai Israel Synagogue. First organized in 1855 and incorporated in 1859 as an Orthodox synagogue by Jews from Germany, B’nai Israel is oldest Jewish congregation in Bridgeport and the third oldest in Connecticut. By the time the Park Avenue Temple was built in 1911, the congregation had moved from Orthodox to Reform Judaism. The building was designed by Leonard Asheim with a Craftsman-style interior featuring natural wood finishes. In 1958, the congregation moved to a new building, at 2710 Park Avenue.
The largest synagogue in Bridgeport was constructed by Congregation Rodeph Shalom in 1947-1949, with a school addition built in 1956. A group that broke away from the Reform Congregation B’nai Israel formed the Conservative Congregation Rodeph Shalom in 1909. The congregation met in Veruna Hall until 1923, when it purchased a church on Iranistan Avenue. The current synagogue, at 2385 Park Avenue in Bridgeport, was designed by architect Jesse James Hamblin of Milford, who also designed Saint John the Baptist Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in Bridgeport. It combines elements of the Neo-Classical and Art Deco styles.
The building at 130 Main Street in Wethersfield was built as a Methodist church and is today a synagogue. The first Methodist sermon in Wethersfield was preached in 1790 by Jesse Lee in the North Brick School House, now the site of Standish Park. Wethersfield was visited by itinerant Methodist preachers until a circuit preacher for Wethersfield, Newington, New Britain, and Kensington was appointed in 1821. Early services were held at Academy Hall until the Methodist Episcopal Church was built at 130 Main Street in 1824. The church was moved 26 feet onto a new stone foundation in 1882. A fire in 1941 destroyed the church’s original Sunday school addition of 1913 and damaged the sanctuary. The church was repaired and a new Sunday school addition, twice as large, was constructed. The church soon outgrew its 1824 building and in 1959 moved to a new church at 150 Prospect Street.
The Jewish Community Group of Wethersfield was formed in 1954. The group purchased the former Methodist Church on Main Street in 1960 and adopted the name Temple Beth Torah. The building was converted to become a synagogue and the new Temple’s Day of Dedication was celebrated on May 28, 1961. Work began in 1964 to give the Temple a new facade. The former church’s steeple was removed and a new entrance in the colonial revival style was added.
Like Knesseth Israel in Ellington and Agudas Achim in Hebron, Anshei Israel, at 142 Newent Road in Lisbon, is an example of one of Connecticut’s rural synagogues. A Colonial Revival building, it was built in 1936 on land given by Harry Rothenberg, a member of the congregation. The synagogue’s fifteen founding families were Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia who lived in Lisbon and other nearby towns. More immigrants from eastern Europe joined the congregation in the wake of World War II. The building is now maintained by the Lisbon Historical Society.