Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington | Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum

Collections: Objects of the Month

June 2010: 1876 Synagogue

Lillian & Albert Small Jewish MuseumThe 1876 synagogue, built by Adas Israel Congregation as its first home, is the largest item in our collection.  President Ulysses S. Grant attended the dedication services on June 9, 1876, and donated $10 to the synagogue's building fund, the equivalent of $200 today.

The congregation soon outgrew its home and built a new synagogue at Sixth & I Streets, NW, in 1908. Its first building was sold and used by a succession of churches, a bicycle shop, a dentist, a barber, and even a pork BBQ!



Moving the 1876 synagogue, 1969It stood for more than 90 years on the site before the new subway system (Metro) wanted to demolish the building to build its new headquarters. After a series of urgent letters and frantic preparations, several dedicated members of the Jewish Historical Society saved the building from the wrecking ball. On December 18, 1969, the building was moved three blocks to its present site, Third and G Streets, NW.


School group after Anna Shulman: Queen of H Street living history performanceCommunity contributions and a gift from Lillian & Albert Small helped restore the synagogue. It is now used for educational programs and life cycle events.

To donate materials that document the history of downtown synagogues to the Jewish Historical Society, contact us at (202) 789-0900 or

For information about visiting the historic synagogue, visit our website.