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Shaarei Zedek Synagogue - St. John, NB
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 45° 16.550 W 066° 03.702
19T E 730468 N 5017793
Quick Description: I've not included the complete name of the former church/former synagogus as it's really long. According to Historic Places Canada the full name is the "Shaarei Zedek Synagogue/Calvin Church - Saint John Jewish Community Centre".
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Date Posted: 11/3/2015 8:58:51 PM
Waymark Code: WMPXCR
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Bon Echo
Views: 1

Long Description:
This neo-Gothic church was built in 1865 by the Calvin Presbyterians, remaining in use by them until the building was purchased by the Saint John Jewish community in 1919. After much interior renovation and redecoration it became the Shaarei Zedek Synagogue. Though the exterior is beginning to show signs of age and neglect (one can see that the building stands on a rubble stone foundation where the parging has fallen off the stones), the interior is quite beautiful yet. See a virtual tour of the interior of the building as synagogue HERE.

Shuttered as a synagogue in 2008, the building appears to be unused at present. The smaller building behind, once the home of the Saint John Jewish Community Centre, is today offices and a daycare centre.


Founded in 1919 as an Orthodox Shul, Shaarei Zedek Synagogue served as the centerpiece of Saint John, New Brunswick’s Jewish community for nearly a century. The building itself actually predates the synagogue, having been constructed in 1865 as a Presbyterian church.

An influx of Sephardic and, later, Ashkenazi Jews at the end of the 19th Century, meant that Saint John’s growing Jewish community needed a more substantial place to meet and worship. The solution was to purchase the more than half-century-old church on the corner of Wellington Row and Carleton streets.

In acquiring the building, Saint John’s Jews set aside some of their differences naming their new synagogue Shaarei Zedek, or Gates of Righteousness. Able to accommodate up to 550 people in a service, the synagogue’s ample dimensions were just what the town’s Jewish community needed at the time...

...The synagogue exterior captures the neo-gothic austerity that often typified its Presbyterian builders. Meanwhile, the color palette of the interior is largely monochrome. The dark wooden columns and arches supporting the vaulted ceiling as well as the balcony railing offer some hint of extravagance and color in a sanctuary that otherwise extols simplicity. The windows, especially the one over the entrance with a rosette at the top, suggest that at one time they may have housed, or at least could have housed, stained glass...

...In the 1960s, there were an estimated 80 Jewish businesses in town. In the latter half of the 20th century, however, Saint John’s Jewish population began to dwindle until the synagogue had fewer than 55 members, many of whom lived away or were too elderly to attend services.

As a result, the synagogue was sold and shut down in late 2008. Saint John’s remaining Jews hope to build a new shul and community center in coming years.
From Synagogues360


Photo goes Here

Shaarei Zedek Synagogue/Calvin Church -
Saint John Jewish Community Centre

DESCRIPTION OF HISTORIC PLACE
The Shaarei Zedek Synagogue/Calvin Church - Saint John Jewish Community Centre consists of two buildings in the City of Saint John: a 2-story rectangular Neo-Gothic brick building constructed in 1871 on the corner of Wellington Row and Carleton Street and a smaller rectangular 2-story red brick Georgian building facing Wellington Row.

HERITAGE VALUE
The Shaarei Zedek Synagogue/Calvin Church - Saint John Jewish Community Centre is designated a Provincial Historic Site for its cultural and spiritual importance in relation to the Saint John community and for its architecture.

The Shaarei Zedek Synagogue/Calvin Church was originally built for the Calvin Presbyterian congregation. Presbyterians were among the Loyalist refugees who founded the city in the 1780s. The Calvin Church was purchased by the Saint John Jewish community in 1919. The first members of Saint John’s Jewish community arrived in the city in 1858. By the 1960s, the community comprised of some 250 families whose cultural and religious life was sustained by their place of worship. “Shaarwi Zedek” means “The Gates of Righteousness.”

The Shaarei Zedek Synagogue/Calvin Church is also noted for its architectural qualities, which combine elements of the mid-19th century Gothic Revival and High Victorian Gothic in a substantial, though not overly ambitious brick composition. The Shaarei Zedek Synagogue/Calvin Church appears to be the second major public building designed by David E. Dunham. He was assisted by contractor William Causey, and painting contractor James H. Pullen.

The building’s substantial interior underwent significant renovation and redecoration altering it from a Christian church to Jewish synagogue. The stained glass windows were removed, all Christian symbols were replaced with Jewish iconography, and the building was thus transformed into a place of worship appropriate for an orthodox Jewish congregation.

The Saint John Community Centre is a beautiful example of brick Georgian architecture and continues to serve the Jewish community in Saint John as a community centre, as well as being home to the Saint John Jewish Historical Museum.

CHARACTER-DEFINING ELEMENTS
The character-defining elements that relate to the The Shaarei Zedek Synagogue/Calvin Church include:
- original design by David E. Dunham;
- pointed-arch doorway set off by twin stone columns with dog-tooth motif and small stone brackets above;
- large stained glass window contrasted with a smaller window at the top in the central tower;
- large tower window being the central figure in a triad of Gothic windows with symmetry to the front façade;
- applied decorative 5-tier buttresses on the tower, 4-tier buttresses separating the windows on the sides of the building and 3-tier buttresses on the corners;
- symmetrical composition of six lancet windows dominating each side of the building in two tiers;
- substantial stone sills and Gothic arches above the six lancet windows;
- polychromatic stone work outlining each of the major windows.

The character-defining elements relating to the Saint John Jewish Community Centre include:
- rectangular massing;
- red brick exterior;
- symmetrical fenestration and central entrance;
- collection of artifacts and documentation relating to the Jewish community
From Historic Places Canada

URL of Page from Heritage Register: [Web Link]

Site's Own URL: [Web Link]

Address of site:
76 Carleton Street Saint John, NB E2L 2Z2


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