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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: George J. Andreve, 01/1976
Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Synagogue
Inventory No.: B-3702
Other Name(s): Berea Temple
Date Listed: 11/7/1976
Location: 1901 Madison Avenue, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1891
Architect/Builder: Architect: Charles L. Carson
Description: Berea Temple, originally the synagogue of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, is located on the northwest corner of Madison Avenue and Robert Street in Baltimore. Built of ashlar gray granite from Port Deposit, Maryland, it is a well-executed, 19th century version of a Byzantine church, designed by Charles L. Carson, a Baltimore architect. The plan of Berea Temple, a Greek cross inscribed within a square, is characteristically Byzantine. In the end of each arm of the cross is a large round-arched opening approximately 26 feet wide. Within the lower portion of the opening on the front (Madison Avenue) façade, is a triple main entrance elevated 13 steps above the street level. Above the entrance is a stained glass window with 13 sections separated by heavy stone mullions. Each arm of the Greek cross has a pitched roof which, with the return of the cornice across the gable, forms a pediment above the large window in each façade. In the tympanum of the front pediment is a small Norman opening with twin-arched windows separated by a heavy central shaft placed within a recessed stone arch. In each of the others is a small circular window. The corners of these projecting arms are finished in a circular engaged column extending from ground level to a Byzantine capital supporting the corner of the cornice. At the intersection of the arms is a large central dome, 40’in diameter, resting on a high octagonal drum pierced by rectangular windows of stained glass. Held above this large dome and the other two on the front towers are stars on top of slender poles. Two tall octagonal towers resting on bases 20’ square flank the main entrance. The octagonal part, about equal to the base in height, begins slightly above the cornice level. These towers terminate in an open balustraded arcade with a bell-shaped dome roof covered in dull, reddish-brown tiles. The form of the central dome, duplicating that of the others, has a lower flared position that becomes octagonal as its drum. The cornices of the domes as well as those surrounding the pediments are supported by large brackets. Significance: Erected by the wealthiest Jewish congregation in late-19th-century Baltimore, the massive size and lavish detail of this synagogue are a reflection of the position of its members. The Baltimore Hebrew congregation was formed by immigrants from Europe in the first half of the 19th century. As the congregation grew and prospered, it moved several times, and the Lloyd Street Synagogue (still standing) built before this structure was erected in 1891 on Madison Avenue. The building is now owned by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and is known as the Berea Temple.


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