5.8 Lake Charles, Louisiana
Temple Sinai, 713 Hodges Street
Architect unknown, 1904
Publisher and publication date unknown, but postmarked October 2, 1911

Upon its completion, the imposing red brick building depicted in this postcard was especially noteworthy for its two towers, with their large, open belvederes. A storm in 1918 blew them down, at least in part, and they have since been removed entirely. The synagogue is eclectic in style, rectangular in plan, with a hipped roof from which projects an entrance bay. The bay is topped by a substantial arch over a large stained glass window. Flanked by four columns, the prominent front entrance has decorative light sconces projecting from either side.

The use of four columns on the facade echoes traditional representations, including on ancient coins, of the Jerusalem Temple. Whether the architect and the congregation consciously made the association is unknown; they may simply have adopted a common feature of classical-style architecture. The paired columns support a low, wide, rusticated arch, with stone tablets set in its center. A horizontal course of rusticated stone divides the building at the level of the front column capitals.

Large, wide, round-arched windows with decorative stained glass line the sides of the sanctuary. Separated on the exterior by applied brick buttresses, they are capped mid-height and at the top with angled cut white stone.

In 1879, when Lake Charles was a small village of 500 people, two Jews—Leopold Kaufman and David Block—arrived from Washington, Louisiana, and became the first Jewish residents. The Jewish community grew, and in September 1894 the congregation of Temple Sinai was founded. Members met at the Masonic Temple and Enterprise Hall at 300 Broad Street until the temple was built in 1904.

The synagogue was expanded in 1929, the interior renovated in 1947, and a religious school wing added in 1960. In August 2020, Temple Sinai suffered extensive water damage from Hurricane Laura, which hit Lake Charles hard. Insurance compensation and donations have allowed the congregation to begin repairs, still in progress in the spring of 2022.