90 Hasell Street
City Directories and History: Enjoy added information on this National Register property.
Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim possesses national significance as the birthplace, in 1824, of Reform Judaism in America. Originated by German Jews in the early 1800s, the Reform Movement spread rapidly through central Europe and to the United States, where it led to radical changes in Jewish doctrine during the remainder of the 19th century. The influx of German, Austrian, and Bavarian Jews that began in 1836 and continued into the 1890s was a major factor in the success of American Reform. Thus Beth Elohim’s pioneering role is accentuated both because the reform group arose within an Orthodox and mainly Sephardic community and because it antedated the first large-scale Ashkenazic immigration by more than a decade. Congregation Beth Elohim, established in 1749, is the nation’s fourth oldest Jewish community. Its present house of worship, a fine Greek Revival structure, erected in 1840, is the second oldest synagogue extant in the country and the oldest in continuous use. Listed in the National Register April 4, 1978; Designated a National Historic Landmark June 19, 1980. [Courtesy of the SC Dept. of Archives and History]
“A newspaper account in 1792 described the first synagogue on this site as a steepled, meetinghouse style building. This structure became the first permanent house of worship for a largely Sephardic community that had established its congregation by 1749. The fire of 1 838 consumed this building with the rest of Ansonborough, and the congregation began planning for a new building on the same site, behind the surviving wrought-iron fence. Various architects and builders, including Charles Reichardt, James Curtis, David Lopez, and Frederick Wesner, submitted plans, and it is unclear which design was selected and sent to Cyrus Warner in New York to be formally drawn. Surviving specifications indicate the high quality of materials, including the use of marble portico tiles, various details of blue granite, and the brick and stuccoed columns. The building as finished has a Greek Doric portico with fluted columns and, on the interior, a coffered dome set into a vaulted ceiling. The mahogany ark sits within a Corinthian-columned canopy, surmounted by scrollwork and a central anthemion framing a pair of gilded tablets.
The Reformed Society of Israelites was founded by some members in 1824 and later merged again with the old congregation, causing a change in Sephardic ritual to a shorter English service. The rebuilding after the fire and the installation of an organ in the back gallery caused the departure of Conservative and Orthodox members of the congregation, most of whom were immigrants from central and eastern Europe. Next door to the synagogue is the circa 1797 Anthony Toomer House at 86 Hasell Street. This three-story brick dwelling with belt courses and banded and corbeled chimneys has been used by the congregation as the home of its archives. Constructed 1840-41; Cyrus Warner, architect; David Lopez, contractor.”
Additional information provided by – The Buildings of Charleston – J.H. Poston for the Historic Charleston Foundation, 1997
Explore history, houses, and stories across S.C. Your membership provides you with updates on regional topics, information on historic research, preservation, and monthly feature articles. But remember R&R wants to hear from you and assist in preserving your own family genealogy and memorabilia.
Visit the Southern Queries – Forum to receive assistance in answering questions, discuss genealogy, and enjoy exploring preservation topics with other members. Also listed are several history and genealogical researchers for hire.
User comments welcome — post at the bottom of this page.
Please enjoy this structure and all those listed in Roots and Recall. But remember each is private property. So view them from a distance or from a public area such as the sidewalk or public road.
Do you have information to share and preserve? Family, school, church, or other older photos and stories are welcome. Send them digitally through the “Share Your Story” link, so they too might be posted on Roots and Recall.
User comments always welcome - please post at the bottom of this page.