A smidge over two years ago we told you that the landmark Agudas Achim Synagogue at 5029 North Kenmore in Uptown was going to be turned into homes. Now the building’s haphak is complete, and people can start to move in.
As we gushed back in October of 2016:
This isn’t just any abandoned place of worship, though. Its roots go back to the legendary heyday of Maxwell Street, and it’s been described as the grandest synagogue in Chicago. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by Henry Dubin of Dubin and Eisenberg and can seat 1,750 of your closest friends, which proved insufficient shortly after it opened in 1922, but far more than necessary at its closing.
Cedar Street bought the property for $1.25 million, and kitted the place out with 40 new apartments. Mercifully, the outside remains much the same, though it has been cleaned up a bit. That’s fortunate since so many buildings in Chicago’s recent wave of holy-places-turned-homes have been disfigured by unsympathetic new owners. Or worse, demolished entirely and replaced with boring boxes like poor Saint Dominic’s Church in Cabrini Green.
Inside, the foyer and grand staircase have been preserved. As you might expect, the ceiling heights are heavenly, and there’s lots of exposed brick.
Other artifacts from the building’s past will live on elsewhere, according to Cedar Street:
Several pieces, including the building’s jeweled-mosaic Ark case where the Torah, the Jewish holy scripture, traditionally is housed, were donated to Chicago’s F.R.E.E. (Friends of refugees of Eastern Europe) synagogue. Other items, such as pieces of exquisite art-glass windows, restored by Preservation Chicago, have been or will be donated to area synagogues.
And Cedar Street isn’t going to let people forget this building’s past. The project is officially called The Synagogue, so you can tell your friends, “I live at The Synagogue,” and they’ll hear, “I live at the synagogue” and everyone will still be on the same page.