Mar 8, 2016

Icon of Allentown's 10th Ward

While the pulpit section of the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary Orthodox Church is adorned with murals and icons of Mary, parishioners may notice that there is no such imagery on the beautiful stained glass windows. More careful inspection reveals that while there are no graven images in the glass, Stars of David and scrolls can be seen. As the ancestors of the current members came from eastern Europe and the Czarist Russian Empire, so did the building's original congregation. The gothic edifice was built as a synagogue in 1909 by Allentown's Russian Jews. The Orthodox Jewish congregation, Sons Of Israel, utilized the structure for 50 years before it was repurposed by the current American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox congregation.

This was the synagogue I attended as a boy with my father, as he did with my grandfather, growing up on the corner of Chew and Jordan Streets. In the front, under those golden domes with the crosses, are Stars of David. I rekindled my memory of those times when I visited the church last year. The stained glass windows are surely among the most beautiful in Allentown.  The synagogue turned church is located on the northeast corner of 6th and Tilghman Streets in Allentown.  The area, Allentown's 10th Ward,  has a strong neighborhood group. The exterior photograph of the church is from their facebook page.  The large round window shown above is behind the balcony,  in the back of the church. Inside, the congregation faces east,  toward Jerusalem.


Anonymous said...

Excellent story.

michael molovinsky said...

anon@4:30, this was an expanded version of an earlier post on the synagogue/church. i hope to revisit a number of posts on allentown's history.

Anonymous said...

Thank You Michael,
We must reclaim Allentown's Historical past, and stop this indiscriminate destruction of our City's rich structural infrastructure, and beautiful parks.
Please continue to educate us in this regard..
"The Old Allentown Curmudgeon" (Paul Fiske)

George Ruth said...

Love this historical pieces. Thanks.

MaryO said...

Thank you for the history and the photos.