Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Temple Sholom
 by: chicago designslinger

[Temple Sholom (1930) Loebl, Schlossman & Demuth; Coolidge & Hodgdon, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Temple Sholom congregation had been around for a while by the time they built this impressive facade on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive. Founded in 1867 as the North Chicago Hebrew Congregation, one of a handful of Reform Jewish congregations in America, the group held their first service in a rented hall on the second floor of a commercial building on the city's north side. And as the membership grew, congregants built their own place of worship at the corner of Superior and Wells Street, in today's condo converted, art galleried, restaurant-packed River North area.  

 [Temple Sholom, 3840 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

After the Chicago Fire burned down their synagogue in 1871, it was off to a new building at Rush and Walton Streets before settling into a fine brick and terra-cotta structure on La Salle Street in 1893. By 1911, the 2,000 member organization was ready once again for a move-on-up, and left the near north side for what was then the far north side of an expanding city. Their newest home on Pine Grove at Grace Street was their largest building to date, but the group was not inclined to sit in one place for long, and by 1926 they were on the move - again. With a $100,000 donation from real estate tycoon and vice-president of the congregation W.B. Frankenstein, the association purchased a prime piece of property on Sheridan Road overlooking the park and the lake, which was just a few blocks away from their Pine Grove corner. With the large vacant lot in hand, the next thing was to construct a building worthy of the location.

  [Temple Sholom, lake View, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Jerry Loebl and Norm Schlossman were graduate students and classmates at the Armour Institute of Technology in 1925 when they decided to form a partnership and were awarded the commission to build a temple for Sholom, which it just so happened that the duo had designed while still in school. Along with John Demuth, who joined the pair in 1926, and established architects Charles Coolidge and Charles Hodgdon, who could supervise and keep an on the the young men, the team got to work. The structure was comprised of two components - a place for worship and a community center - wrapped in one Byzantine-inspired, monumental, stone building. The center contained among other things, a large auditorium which could be combined with the temple portion of the structure for extra seating. A large, steel "curtain" was built between the two spaces which could be retracted to join the rooms together and create the one, large auditorium usually required for the high holidays.
It seems that this time the folks at Temple Sholom were finally satisfied with their 1930-era synagogue and location because they still come here to meet, pray, and practice the beliefs set forth in the liberal Reform Jewish tradition.

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