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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: Daniel Gulbins, 06/25/1985
Young Men's & Young Women's Hebrew Association
Inventory No.: B-4111
Date Listed: 11/14/1985
Location: 305-311 W. Monument Street, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1930
Architect/Builder: Architect: Joseph Evans Sperry
Description: The Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association Building on West Monument Street between Howard and Eutaw Streets, which was completed in 1930, is a three-story, flat-roofed, rectangular-shaped brick structure that extends south the depth of the lot with an ell projecting west along the back property line to Eutaw Street. The principal façade or north elevation is symmetrically divided into five bays with a centered two-story recessed entranceway with a round arch which is flanked on the first floor by 6/9, double-hung windows with stone corniced surrounds. The second floor windows flanking the arch are casements. The third floor area which rests on a narrow cornice is also five bays wide with the centered three a part of a recessed arcaded section with cushion-capitaled columns. The arcaded section is flanked by narrow 4/6 double hung windows. Moorish and Jewish motifs decorate the exterior. The bricks of all elevations are laid in Flemish bond. The interior is simple with architrave molding and divided into classrooms and offices. Significance: Built in 1930, the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association Building fulfilled the long-sought aspirations for unity and prominence of the Baltimore Jewish Community. Baltimore Jews first joined together in 1854 as the Hebrew Young Men’s Literary Association. As the "first" Jewish ‘Y’ in America is represented the beginning of a community center movement which now includes 350 centers throughout the country. Prominent leaders of Baltimore civic and commercial life founded the 1854 Association. Firmly entrenched in Baltimore’s establishment, these German immigrants prospered and moved "uptown." In the 1880s an influx of Russian Jews fleeing progroms settled in East Baltimore, in many of the homes vacated by upwardly mobile and assimilated German Jews. A divisive tension developed between the two immigrant groups. Issues of assimilation, culture, and financial importance separated them. The "downtown" Russian Jews formed independent societies to compete with the "uptown" Jews. With the realization that the future of Baltimore Jewry lay in the investment to its youth, community leaders began to take notice of neglected social dilemmas. In a 1926 brochure entitled "Reasons Y," the National Jewish Welfare Board argued the cases for demanding a combined and strengthened YM & YWHA to replace the inadequate facilities of the separate groups. Juvenile delinquencies, Jewish membership in Christian organizations and a shortage of space for educational, religious, and social gatherings formed the argument for a statewide fundraising campaign. During the week of February 28 to March 8, 1926, $530,000 was raised in an impressive show of strength and solidarity. Both Jewish settlements were represented in the contributions to the future of a unified wholesome community. Located precisely between the "Downtown" and "Uptown" settlements, the Monument Street building is a landmark to this united effort. Not only would the new building unite the two disparate cultural communities, but it also would join, for the first time nationally, the two sexes into one facility. The building also achieves significance as an excellent example of Jewish institutional architecture of the second quarter of the 20th century. The distinctive characteristic of these buildings of which few stand in the inner core of Baltimore is a general classical design in the symmetry of the façade and the use of brick with stone trim (lintels, belt courses, foundation walls, etc.) with Moorish influences seen in arches and Jewish motifs such as the Star of David.

 

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