JMM Joins City’s Celebration of American Design and Manufacture
Last year, the organization MADE: In America designated the Carroll Mansion as its “All American House” for 2016. From April 23 to July 7, 2016 the Carroll Mansion will be transformed into a showcase for some of the most innovative manufacturers and craftsmen in Baltimore and across the nation. The city expanded the celebration by inviting partner organizations in what it’s calling the “Baltimore’s American Treasures” event.
Located just a few blocks away from the Carroll Mansion in Baltimore’s oldest neighborhood, Historic Jonestown, is the Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM). To play our part in the celebration we’re hosting special events in recognition of the Lloyd Street Synagogue as a truly All American Synagogue. Built in 1845, the Lloyd Street Synagogue is the third oldest Jewish house of worship still standing in the United States. The building was designed by Robert Cary Long, Jr., a prominent church architect of the era. Nearly every component of the original building and its 1860 renovation were the result of American craft and manufacture from the stenciling to the wooden pews to the stained glass Star of David.
The museum has spent the winter researching the material history of the building – which switched hands multiple times, serving first as a traditional German synagogue, then as a reformed temple, later it became a Lithuanian Catholic Church and finally a Russian Orthodox shul. Each iteration brought new design elements into the building, holy arks and altars, mezuzot and an organ. We’ve sifted through the records to identify some of the most interesting stories of how this site was designed and built to serve the needs of successive waves of immigrants.
Not every story has been easy to trace. Where did the synagogues first Torah scroll come from? What was the origin of the church’s bells and where did they go when the church was sold? How did church chandeliers end up hanging from the ceiling of an Orthodox synagogue? Questions like these led to the idea of our “Book, Bell and Candle Mystery Experience” (offered each Sunday from May 1 through July 7 at 3pm). Our expert history sleuth will transport you into the shoes of a researcher on the trail of holy artifacts. Made in America? Or lovingly imported? Only one thing is certain – “it belongs in a museum” – the Jewish Museum of Maryland.
We’ve set three Sundays aside for activities related to design work for the whole family. On May 1 our focus is on crafts related to the building itself. It includes a closer look at the stained glass windows and the art behind them. On May 29, our “Welcome to Jonestown” free family day will feature crafts related to music in the synagogue. Finally, on June 26, we will offer demonstrations of specialized skills required to manufacture the artifacts of the synagogue – from a sofer (scribe) illustrating Hebrew calligraphy to a blacksmith making fencework.
Come see how the Lloyd Street Synagogue and its congregations fit into the fabric of America’s material culture.