" It is possible to be awestruck by the exotic splendor of this meticulously restored sanctuary."

Edward Rothstein, New York Times




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Paint Schemes

1894, revised 1918, restored 1986-2007
Original and restoration paints and glazes on plaster

When the doors of the new synagogue opened in 1887, the sanctuary walls were covered with sober light grey and taupe paint. No money remained for more elaborate decoration. By 1894, the congregation approved a number of improvements to their building, including a brand new paint scheme. Artisans were hired to hand-paint virtually every surface, creating a design very similar to what we see in the sanctuary today. In 1918, several years after the building’s gas lighting fixtures were converted to electricity, painters were brought in again. This time, they maintained the decorative designs, but created a brighter color scheme to suit the newly-brightened space. By the 1940s, the paint was again in need of sprucing up, but the struggling congregation no longer had the funds to restore the elaborate designs by hand. Instead, they chose solid pink, cream and blue to paint over the fading decoration in the sanctuary.

During the restoration, it was decided to preserve the third of these four paint schemes, the one meant for electric lighting, which is still how the space is seen by visitors. This meant painstakingly removing the 1940s coats of paint, and retouching and reproducing the 1918 designs and colors. The first and second layers are still present underneath!

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