Save the Synagogue Mural at 415 M Street, NW

Photo courtesy of Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington

From the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington:

“You may have heard about the synagogue mural recently rediscovered behind an apartment wall in Vermont, but you may not know that hidden on the second floor of 415 M Street, NW, right here in Washington, is a fragment of the only known synagogue mural in the area. It was painted almost 90 years ago, and, until the 1990s, preserved under layers of paint and wallpaper. The building is going to be converted to condos this summer, and the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington has started a campaign to cultivate awareness about the mural, and raise funds to rescue the original elements of it.

The mural is the remaining portion of a larger piece that once surrounded the synagogue’s ark. In 1993, as if peeling back layers of time, the then-owner rediscovered the mural hidden beneath layers of old paint and wallpaper. With help from an artist and guidance from the Jewish Historical Society, she worked to restore the celestial scene, Jewish star, and a portion of the biblical quote that encircled the ark – and added a winged lion. In 2013, BlackRock Holdings, a custom-home building company based in McLean, VA, purchased the building and will convert the property into a multi-family condominium later this summer.

JHSGW and BlackRock Holdings hope to save this unique piece of Washington, DC Jewish history before construction starts in July. We have a proposal in hand from a conservation firm to remove and conserve the mural. But we need to act quickly to raise at least $20,000 to remove and preserve the mural. Your donation will make it possible for the Jewish Society of Greater Washington to preserve this remnant of our past for generations to come.”

9 Comment

  • Honestly if I was looking for a place and saw this it would TOTALLY be a selling point. I would likely beat people over the head to insure my bid was accepted.

  • I can’t imagine the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington hasn’t thought of this but, why not put an ad in the Washington Jewish Week, or a local publication in Potomac, MD? Advertise in a synagogue newsletter? Even send a letter out to the parents of kids at the Jewish Day School or Hebrew Academy in Rockville?

    I could raise this money by COB today. What is this, amateur hour?

    • Perhaps the fundraisers are casting a wide net because this isn’t just one community’s history; it’s Washington DC history. My ancestors would not have worshipped at a synagogue, but I can take responsibility for this piece of DC history.

  • WOW! I walk by this house every single day. Had no idea! cool!

  • The link to donate doesn’t work.

  • I just contributed.
    Never a good idea to have a painting by a window, by the way. Moisture is bad for paintings. Thought I bet in tis case the window was punched through after the mural was painted.

  • I’m curious about the historical value of this. I was surprised when I read that in 1993, the then-owner consulted with the Jewish Historical society and. in addition to working with an artist to restore the original piece, “added a winged lion”. Would this addition change the historical value of the piece in any way? Is this a common practice? Would such an addition be considered to be on the “restoration” continuum?

  • The seller of this house got almost $2M for it, I am sure with their recent windfall they can simply pay for the removal they seem so passionate about.

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