Structure Type: built works - religious structures - synagogues

Designers: Durham, Anderson and Freed, Architects (firm); Mortensen, Nelse P., and Company, Incorporated, General Contractors (firm); Roe, Harold K. Roe, Structural Engineer (firm); Stern, Richard M. and Associates (firm); Travis, Beverly A., and Associates, Electrical Engineer (firm); David Riley Anderson (architect); Robert Lewis Durham (architect); Aaron David Freed (architect); Nelse P. Mortensen (building contractor); Richard M. Stern (architect); Beverly A. Travis (electrical engineer)

Dates: constructed 1968-1969

total floor area: 12,000 sq. ft.

5217 South Brandon Street
Rainier Valley, Seattle, WA 98118-2522

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The firm of Durham, Anderson and Freed became very well known for its church architecture in the Puget Sound region, and did work for many denominations. The architects designed this synagogue, completed in 1969, for a Sepharidic Orthodox community whose first members were immigrants from the Island of Rhodes in Greece and who arrived in Seattle in 1904 and 1905. The congregation officially formed in 1914.

Building History

The first temple for Congregation Ezra Bessaroth was completed in 1917 for a site at 15th Avenue East and East Fir Street. This wood-frame temple clad in rough-sawn cedar siding was planned by the Seattle architectural partnership of Durham, Anderson and Freed and completed at a cost of $263,000.It contained about 12,000 square feet of new space. The architects worked with William Greenberg the synagogue's rabbi and Orville Cohen, chairman of the congregation's building committee. The Seattle Times observed in 03/1969: "To be completed in June, it will seat 800 in the main temple and also includes an inner and outer foyer, a midrash (chapel) seating 50, and an enclosed entranceway which will connect with an existing building." (See "Synagogue Enlarging," Seattle Times, 03/16/1969, p. C1 [p 97 in the Readex scanned version].) Durham, Anderson and Freed worked with the Nelse Mortensen Company, Incorporated, building contractors; other collaborators included Richard Stern as the mechanical engineer, Beverly A. Travis and Associates, the electrical engineer, annd Harold K. Roe, the structural engineer. Willett Stained Glass Studios of Philadelphia, PA, produced the facility's faceted glass windows.

William Greenberg served as the Rabbi of Congregation Ezra Bessaroth at the time of its construction.

Building Notes

The synagogue won an honor award from the National Interfaith Council on Religion and Architecture in 06/1973. In the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967 between the Arabs and the Israelis, tensions in the American Jewish community were high. To quell this anxiety, the building's architecture was meant to embody a sense of safety and enclosure. The Seattle Times observed in 1973: "Rough-sawn cedar, stained a deep-sepia color, is used on the exterior walls which slope inward toward the parapet to impart a feeling of protection and strength." It continued: "The design, according to the architect, is based on the congregation's desire that it be a tie between the rich forms of Israel's heritage and the trials of today's tensions, and the architect's desire to relate those forms to a vigorous regional architectural form. Sixteen large faceted-glass windows surround the temple and its inner foyer, retelling the story of Israel's early history." (See "Synagogue given honor award," Seattle Times, 06/17/1973, p. D4 (p. 46 in Readex scanned version.)

PCAD id: 5252