Quincy, Mass. Historical and Architectural Survey

33 Grafton Street

The first Jews settled in Quincy in the South Quincy neighborhood in the 1880's and then the trend moved towards Quincy Point. The first Quincy Orthodox Synagogue was Congregation Ahavath Achim, Brotherly Love, which gathered in 1890 and incorporated in 1899. The first synagogue building was erected on School Street in 1903 and stood until 1972. A second synagogue was formed in the Quincy Point area in 1910. Congregational Beth Israel incorporated in 1918 and in that same year built a synagogue on the corner of Grafton and Lancaster Streets in the neighborhood of Quincy Point.

Designed by local architect J. Winthrop Pratt and built by local builders Stein and Apelbaum (Harry Stein and Hyman Apelbaum. 119 Quincy Street and 345 Water Street) the new $10,000 synagogue has been in use for religious worship three times a day ever since. It is an orthodox synagogue where men and Women sit in separate areas and the services are conducted in Hebrew.

Beth Israel is of major significance in the religious history of Quincy as it is the oldest synagogue still in continuous use.

Assessors records.
Building Permit.
William Churchill Edwards. Historic Quincy, Massachusetts. 1957. p. 135.
Historical Sketch of the City of Quincy: Illustrated Souvenir. Issued by Quincy Lodge of Elks No. 943. 1924. p. 27-28.
H. Hobart Holly. ed. Quincy: 350 Years. 1974. p. 19.
Quincy City Directory, 1915.
Quincy Patriot Ledger. 100th Anniversary. January 7. 1937. p. F-14

Traditionally, the style of synagogues built by Jewish communities have reflected the architectural idioms of the country of their residence, rather than evoke their Middle Eastern origin. Temples have been built in the Georgian Style. ( 1763 Touro Synagogue, Newport, Rhode Island by Peter Harrison), in the Gothic Revival Style (1878 Temple Mickve Israel in Savannah): in the Byzantine Style (1928 Temple Ohabei Shalom, Brookline by C. H. Blackhall) and in numerous other styles.

Quincy's Beth Israel Synagogue was built in 1918 during the "Great War" to the designs of J. Winthrop Pratt in a traditional style. The varied window lintels, segmental, arched, plain and polychromatic, the quoins, the decorated eaves and the solid compact rectangular massing recall the Italianate style. A Star of David is prominently sited in the top of the front gable; it is the only iconographic element which suggests the building's use. The main entrance, covered by a pedimented portico is reached by a double stairway, an exterior indication of the separation of the sexes in the interior. Polychromy is also seen in the use of red brick for the walls, yellow bricks for the quoins and the string course. Changes to the building include the replacement of the front doors and the widening of the stairs with the wooden rail replaced by wrought iron one. Beth Israel Synagogue is historically significant and architecturally interesting.