4.8 Houston, Texas
Congregation Adath Yeshurun, Jackson Street and Walker Avenue
[Note: postcard is mislabeled, this is NOT Beth Israel]

Architect unknown; A. Baring, contractor and builder, 1908

A. C. Bosselman and Co., New York, NY, publisher; 1914; postmarked February 10, 1914

This postcard shows the second Byzantine- or Moorish-style synagogue built by Orthodox Congregation Adath Yeshurun (Congregation Israel) in just a few years. The first building opened in 1905 but was soon ceded to the Belt and Terminal Company, which demolished the structure along with many others for the erection of Houston’s new Union Station. The congregation was paid $47,000 for the recently erected building and its property, and quickly recovered from the loss. Soon thereafter, the new building depicted here was dedicated in 1908.

It appears many of the fittings and fixtures from the demolished building were reused. The first edition of the Houston Jewish Herald noted: “When one enters the Adath Yeshurun Synagogue and sees the beautiful old fixtures made new they marvel at the transformation. The work was done by Mr. I. B. Jacobs.”1

The elegant, almost delicate, new structure demonstrates that congregants rejected the latest trends in synagogue architecture, at least as expressed by their Reform neighbors who dedicated the classical-style Beth Israel in Houston the same year. Most likely, the Orthodox Adath Yeshurun wanted to distinguish itself as distinctly Jewish and, like other Orthodox congregations of the time, adopted the Moorish style that had first been made popular by Reform congregations beginning in the 1860s. This distinctive structure was unlike any church or civic building in the growing city.

As seen in this hand-tinted photographic view, the Moorish-style building was substantial: a brick edifice built on a stone base. A great front arch caps a triple entryway. Two open gazebo-like cupolas sit above pilasters, which flank the facade arch. These would be read as towers, leading upward in a fanciful Arabian Nights–type of design. Between each pilaster tower and building corner, a tall, narrow keyhole window is topped with horseshoe Moorish arches. Similar but wider windows flank the building, illuminating the sanctuary. The windows displayed stained glass fabricated by the Texas Art Glass Company. From the perspective of the street level a modest central dome is visible.

Adath Yeshurun remained in this building until 1945, when the congregation merged with the Conservative congregation Beth El, and the newly named Beth Yeshurun erected a building on Southmore Street.

1 “Adath Yeshurun Synagogue and Those Who Helped Construct It,” Houston Jewish Herald, September 24, 1908.