Salem Missionary Baptist Church, Brooklyn, NYC

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The Salem Missionary Baptist Church is a popular venue on Sundays with people coming and going and numerous ushers waiting to greeting you at the entrance. The congregation takes wonderful care of the mid-century structure. What is even more interesting is that the building was actually built as a synagogue and Salem Baptist has made almost no alterations to the interior or exterior, leaving in place the existing Jewish symbolism. The most noticeable decoration still visible is the burning bush sculpture adorning the curved facade and created by noted artist Ludwig Wolpert.

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The building was built as Shaare Torah in 1958. The congregation was previously at 2252 Bedford Avenue, a building now demolished and designed by Brooklyn architect Adolph Goldberg. They discussed moving in the 1940s and by 1954 had built the community center at this location and the synagogue four years later. The community center and most likely the synagogue were designed by Samuel Juster, a local architect, known in the Jewish community. He also did this small Jewish community center, among other projects.

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Shaare Torah merged with a neighboring congregation and Salem Missionary Baptist Church took over the space sometime in the late 1970s. But as noted, they have been wonderful stewards of the building.

Special thanks to Ellen Levitt of the Lost Synagogues of New York and New Jersey for introducing me to many of these mid-century Jewish buildings around Brooklyn.

 

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