Monday, July 27, 2015

Cleveland Heights' Park Synagogue, An Underappreciated Modernist Masterpiece

Hard to describe the magical, peaceful creative energy I felt when I discovered this modernist gem walking around Cleveland Heights. This is true, organic architecture, tucked into the landscape and community- sadly my images don't do it justice, I was not able to tour inside or spend adequate time. Technically, I may have been trespassing- I apologize.

The complex combines a temple, school, library, gallery and community center unified into a simple, yet complex whole. Nothing seems pretentious or overly tricky.

The original Congregation had been on Cleveland's East Side but followed the growth of the suburbs eastward to Cleveland Heights.

"Rabbi Cohen was already familiar with the work of Eric Mendelsohn, an architect working in New York and then San Francisco. Together with his family, the architect had escaped Nazi Germany, moving to England and Palestine. Mendelsohn had had an illustrious career in Europe. Among his most admired creations were the De la Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, England; Expressionist-style department stores in several German cities; and the Einstein Tower in Potsdam, Germany.....

Shortly after Park’s dedication in 1950, one critic referred to the synagogue as “the outstanding example of modern Hebrew architecture in America . . . the forerunner of a modern, functional synagogue design.” A curator of the Jewish Museum in New York wrote: “I regard Park Synagogue as the most significant structure of its kind in our generation.” The Cleveland Heights facility is now referred to as Park Main, as the congregation built and maintains a second facility in Pepper Pike."

The location is not easy to find- and Google Maps seems to redirect one to the second location in Pepper Pike, Ohio.

Hopefully, this is right.,-81.5665016,17z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0xd87382acfa6cd127 

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