Tuesday, June 2, 2009

First Universalist Church in Minneapolis

Sunday, I sketched the interior of the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis at 3400 Dupont Avenue South. The landmark building was formerly the Adath Jeshurun Synagogue:

The first Orthodox synagogue in Minneapolis, Adath Jeshurun, was founded in 1884 by several merchants of Eastern European origin. In 1926 the congregation moved to its location on 34th Street and Dupont Avenue South into a neo-classical synagogue designed by architects Liebenberg and Kaplan (also responsible for Temple Israel and Beth El). At a cost of $200,000, the facility included a dining hall, gymnasium, classrooms, library, and a theater seating 700. The imposing entryway is highlighted by four colossal Corinthian columns with the words “Hear O Israel: The Lord Our Savior is One,” inscribed above. Between 1930 and 1946 the congregation grew from 85 families to 403 families. The growth was largely due to the influence of Rabbi Albert I. Gordon who fiercely opposed the anti-Semitic hate groups prominent in Minneapolis during that period. The Adath Jeshurun congregation remained at 34th and Dupont until 1993 when the First Universalist Church acquired the space.

Roberta and I returned yesterday to sketch the exterior of the building (Roberta is a proud member of First Universalist).

(Click on sketches to make them bigger)

The sanctuary by Ken Avidor:

The front of the church with a few details by Ken Avidor:

Roberta Avidor's journal sketch of the church:

UPDATE: Yesterday we took a trip to the Minnesota Institute of Arts. The MIA has a collection of Judaica that includes the original stained glass windows from Adath Jeshurun (donated by First Universalist). They have one window on display. This is a detail from my journal:


  1. I was a custodian/shabbat worker here from '78-'79 along with my best friend Jim T (now deceased). He lived in the basement apartment and we had many good times there-including grilling burgers and watching fireworks from the roof with friends on many occasions. I now live in Homer, Alaska and I stumbled across your site quite by accident and recognized the building from your wonderful sketches. Thank you for reminding me of those great times!


To add yourself to the map, go to this link and follow the instructions (Note: You'll need to sign in with your Google account first.)