Lexington's First Synagogue was Ohavey Zion; Moving the Scrolls From Original Site Answers Last Week's #TBT
|Joe Bologna's Restaurant once housed Lexington's First Synagogue|
|Transfer of the Torahs|
Photo: Herald-Leader/Steven Nickerson
The old synagogue got its start nearly a century before, as a Presbyterian mission.
In March 1890, the front page of the Lexington Leader declared that the city's First Presbyterian Church would start "Another Mission"in a "handsome building at Maxwell and Upper Streets" on land known as the Morris property. With "appropriate exercises," the new Mission Chapel of the First Presbyterian Church was dedicated in the spring of 1891. Construction had cost $7,000.
|Inside the old Maxwell St.|
When Ohavey Zion looked to build a new facility for itself in the 1980s, the question arose as to what would become of the old synagogue. Restrictions as a former synagogue prohibited certain uses: it could be used neither as a public urinal or as a slaughterhouse.
|Stained glass window and|
The old church/synagogue/pizza parlor has a Romanesque feeling with modern additions on both the rear and on its western side. The original entrance, off Jersey Street, is utilized only as an emergency exit with the primary point of ingress and egress being through the western addition.
The iconic symbol of the building, which has been adopted by the pizza parlor in its logo, is the "triple window framed by flat brick pilasters with acorn-shaped stone finials and horizontal stone bands that is crowned by a large arched window articulated with stonework."
It is a spectacular structure with a storied and sacred past.