Beth Israel Synagogue

The Interesting History of the Greenville’s First Synagogue

From synagogue to church to house, the Old Beth Israel synagogue stands as an important landmark of religious diversity in the Greenville area.

Though there had been a Jewish population within Greenville dating back to 1790s, they did not congregate together for worship in great numbers until 1910. This was the result of the rise of working-class Jewish immigrants to the Greenville area, and United States South as a whole.

Prior to the construction of their first synagogue, the congregation met for worship in each other’s homes and rented rooms across the city. Construction on the Old Beth Israel Synagogue began in 1929 and was completed in 1930 by a famous local architect named Joseph G. Cunningham. The building is located in what is now north Greenville. At the time, a large portion of the city’s Jewish population lived there and supported a kosher-only market that was not found anywhere else in the city.

The building is a large two-story structure with a sanctuary on the upper floor and an all-purpose space on the bottom floor. It was able to accommodate up to 275 people.

In 1957, a growing Jewish population in Greenville caused the congregation to move its home from the original synagogue. After the synagogue was abandoned, it was occupied by a number of different Christian denominations and businesses. The first of these was Grace Evangelical Methodist Church from 1959 to 1964, followed by the Greenville Labor Temple Cooperative from 1964 to 1977, and finally Faith Tabernacle Apostolic Church from 1978 to 1988. In 1988 a photography studio named Crosby Stills bought the sight and owned it until 2004. As of 2015, the synagogue was being converted into a house.