Park Synagogue is for sale

Park Synagogue [photo courtesy of the city of Cleveland Heights]

The spectacular Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights, now referred to as Park Main, is for sale.

The congregation of Park Synagogue, Anshe Emeth Beth Tefilo, can trace its Cleveland-area history back to 1869, when the congregation which would become Anshe Emeth was formed. As the congregation merged with another and expanded, a number of different locations were established, including Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights.

The original portion of this sacred structure, designed in an expressionist style by internationally renowned architect Eric Mendelsohn, was completed in 1950. The accompanying school, also Mendelsohn's design, opened in 1953, and the Kangesser wing, designed by Michael A. Gallis, with Bialosky and Manders as associates, opened in 1968. Park was one of the first two U.S. synagogues designed by Mendelsohn and it became a model for religious structures across the country.

The building is located on 33 park-like acres between Euclid Heights Boulevard and Mayfield Road. Residential properties along Euclid Heights and Ivydale and Compton roads back up to the Park campus, which fronts on Mayfield.

The synagogue boasts a dramatic copper dome over the sanctuary. At 100 feet in diameter, it was one of the largest in the world when constructed. The dome was designed to symbolically unite the heavens and earth. The drum beneath the dome is ringed with windows that allow all within the building to visually connect with nature. Mendelsohn insisted on using clear glass instead of the stained glass many congregants would have preferred.

This impressive structure was the only building in Ohio designed by Mendelsohn. It earned landmark status from Cleveland Heights in 1976—one of the earliest nominations made by the city. Park Main remains an important part of Cleveland Heights' architectural and cultural history. Perhaps it can be adapted into a new use—with “Mikvey” remaining—that makes the most of its stunning architecture and the natural beauty that surrounds it.

This is one complex that Cleveland Heights can claim truly draws admirers from around the world.

Margaret Lann and Ken Goldberg

Margaret Lann and Ken Goldberg are members of the Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission, which preserves and protects buildings, works of art and other objects of historical or architectural value to the community. The commission's seven members are appointed to three-year terms by city council.

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 1:47 PM, 06.21.2021