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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: David A. Dorsey, 08/1979
B'er Chayim Temple
Inventory No.: AL-IV-A-110
Date Listed: 11/15/1979
Location: 100 S. Centre Street , Cumberland, Allegany County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1866, 1900
Architect/Builder: Builder: John B. Walton
Description: The B'er Chayim Temple is a 2-story gable-front brick building laid in common bond on a low foundation of rock-faced coursed ashlar with a smooth-faced stone cap, except on the south which has a brick foundation. The front or west facade, three bays wide, faces South Centre Street and the 5-bay north elevation faces Union Street. A 3-bay, 2 1/2-story addition facing onto Union Street stretches across the rear of the synagogue, and a smaller, 1-story addition stands on the south side to the rear. The west facade has a pediment in the gable and a cornice, both decorated with modillions. This facade is divided into even bays by four brick pilasters. Each bay contains a round-arched window on the second floor, the center window being wider and containing within it two round arches topped with a common arch. The first floor consists of a central entrance of double doors in an enclosed brick portico with a broken pediment. The sides of the portico each contain a small round-arched window. Flanking the portico are segmentally arched stained-glass windows. All windows on the west facade have drip moldings from the arches. The two openings in the pediment consist of a horizontal stained-glass window with segmental arch and a ventilator in the peak. The north and south facades have five recessed bays, each with an opening on both floors. The five on the second floor are windows like those in the north and south bays of the principal facade. Most first floor bays contain 1/1 sash windows. The east gable end is hidden by a 1900 2 1/2-story brick addition. Significance: B'er Chayim Congregation was chartered in 1853. In 1866 the Synagogue at Union and Centre Streets was completed by John B. Walton, the builder. Mr. Walton was one of Cumberland's earliest builders whose accomplishments include working on the Emmanuel Episcopal Church, the Allegany County Academy, and the Gordon House. The original temple building is constructed in a Greek Temple style with brick pilasters and a shallow pediment. It is architecturally effective yet retains a simplicity of form and decoration that reflects the orthodoxy of the early congregation that built it.
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