Saturday, February 21, 2015

K.A.M. Isaiah Israel
 by: chicago designslinger

 K.A.M. Isaiah Israel (1924) Alfred S. Alschuler, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

By the time congregation Isaiah Israel moved to Greenwood Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard in 1924, Isaiah had moved twice before, merged with B'nai Sholom Temple Israel, and settled into this Byzantine Revival designed house of worship, courtesy of architect Alfred S. Alschuler. The style choice was in direct opposition to the previous decades embrace of a more western-styled, Greco/Roman classicism, and a return to the East.  

 [K.A.M. Isaiah Israel, 1100 E. Hyde Park Boulevard, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger]

Apparently Alschuler's inspiration had come from some recently published photographs taken at an archaeological dig site, in what is now eastern Israel, where Nahum Slouschz had uncovered an 2nd century Jewish temple. During the 1920s, Alschuler joined other temple designers in rejecting the formerly accepted style of the non-denominational-looking reform house of worship, and infused the new structure with the explosive ornamentation and massing found in early Byzantine design.

  [K.A.M. Isaiah Israel, Hyde Park - Kenwood National Historic District, Chicago/Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

There was one more change in store for Isaiah Israel and Alschuler's building. In 1971 the congregation agreed to a merger with K.A.M. temple, the oldest  Jewish congregation in the city, and their name was added to the front facade. Merger talks had been floating around since 1919, but resistance over who would control what put the kibosh on the deal. In 1923, just as Isaiah Israel was undertaking the planning of this building, K.A.M. was looking to relocate, but when Isaiah refused to move into the new structure K.A.M. wanted to build, the merger fell apart again. By the early 70s times had changed, and the members of K.A.M. were ready to leave their many colonnaded temple and join Iasiah in their 2nd century imbued home.

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