Temple Israel: A Frontier Synagogue and Museum
The group of Jews in Leadville traced their roots to Germany. They tended to be assimilationists and practiced Reform Judaism, including worship services largely in English, women as members of the congregation, and the use of a choir and organ. Later immigration to Leadville contained a larger proportion of Eastern European Jews who were more orthodox. During 1892 the congregation split with the orthodox members, establishing their own congregation, Kneseth Israel, which occupied a former church on West 5th Street.
Jews accounted for some 300 residents during the early 1880s and their presence was mostly felt in the retail trades. Leading names included leading merchant David May and the mine owning Guggenheim family, who went on to establish firms of national importance. Jews were also involved in a wide variety of social, philanthropic, and political activities and supported several organizations in addition to the synagogue. Leadville was host to a lodge of B’nai B’rith, both men and women’s Hebrew Benevolent Societies, and a religious school.
Building the Synagogue On August 7, 1884,
Congregation and Building Evolve
Rabbis were unavailable to Temple Israel, but lay leaders held regular services until about 1908. The decline of the Jewish population in Leadville began in the mid 1880s with many Jews gravitating towards larger cities and accelerated with the collapse of Colorado’s mining industry after 1893. The last recorded events here were in 1912 and the congregation had dissolved entirely by the 1920s. The building passed into private hands in 1937 and subsequently served as a family residence and a radiator repair shop, World War II dormitory, Episcopal vicarage, and apartment house. The Temple Israel Foundation acquired the building in 1992. In 2006, the building was heavily damaged by an electrical fire. This prompted the final round of reconstruction culminating in the Temple’s return to service during December, 2008, and the subsequent opening of the museum in 2012.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation Markers marker series.
Location. 39° 14.787′ N, 106° 17.614′ W. Marker is in Leadville, Colorado, in Lake County. Marker is at the intersection of West 4th Street and Pine Street, on the right when traveling east on West 4th Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 201 W 4th Street, Leadville CO 80461, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. David May (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Healy House (approx. 0.4 miles away); Hebrew Cemetery: Final Resting Place of Leadville Jews (approx. 0.8 miles away); John B. "Texas Jack" Omohundro (approx. 1.2 miles away); Matchless Mine (approx. 1.4 miles away); 10th Mountain Division Memorial (approx. 8 miles away); Office of Stratigic Services (O.S.S.) NORSO (Rype Group) Special Force (approx. 8 miles away); Norwegian Memorial (approx. 8.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Leadville.
More about this marker. Marker is located in front of the building just to the outside of the ramp on the left of the entrance door.
Also see . . .
1. Temple Israel, Jewish Leadville. (Submitted on June 26, 2019, by Jerry Klinger of Boynton Beach, Florida.)
2. Temple Israel of Leadville, Colorado: Once the “Highest” Synagogue in America . (Submitted on June 26, 2019, by Jerry Klinger of Boynton Beach, Florida.)
Categories. • Churches & Religion • Notable Buildings •
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Credits. This page was last revised on June 28, 2019. This page originally submitted on June 26, 2019, by Jerry Klinger of Boynton Beach, Florida. This page has been viewed 43 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on June 26, 2019, by Jerry Klinger of Boynton Beach, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.