In 1912 immigrants from Russia (today, the Ukraine) built a synagogue in Detroit’s east side. In 1925, the congregation started moving into neighborhoods on the north side of the city, so a new synagogue was built on the west side. It would be one of the first synagogues in the city to emphasize working with youth, by offering studies of the Talmud. The church prospered for over 25 years, until 1958, when a large part of Detroit’s Jewish population once again continued to move out of the city, eventually settling into the suburbs. It was at this time, the church leadership announced it was starting construction of a new synagogue in Oak Park. The old synagogue on the west side had been sold (in 1956) to an African American Protestant church, who moved in, late 1958. From 1958 to 1964 it’s unclear who was occupying the structure, but in November of 1964 a Baptist congregation began holding services in the synagogue. In 1972, it is believed the occupancy changed once again, when another denomination started holding services at the location. In 2004 the former synagogue closed its doors for the final time, and has been left to decay for the past 10 years.
I absolutely love finding items “left behind” whilst I’m exploring. So finding an altar, still somewhat in tact, after 10+ years, was pretty amazing! I was all smiles 🙂 Currently, the entire upper floor is inaccessible due to collapsed staircases as well as a collapsed upper balcony/2nd floor. The pews were in tact, with the exception of the left side, where the upper floor has collapsed on top of them, and is now one big pile of wooden rubble. What was even more shocking was finding a mirror that ran the length of the wall, still in tact! I couldn’t believe it. Naturally I had to take my [reflection] picture in it lol.
But I must say…while there was so much apparent decay and destruction that had happened, walking down the middle aisle, through the field of wooden pews, up to the carpeted altar, was truly humbling – imagining all of the peace that was achieved and spiritual healing that could have taken place within these walls – made me smile! Definitely one of my favorite explores from this trip.
Below are a few photos from this amazing location,