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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

 

Property Name Temple Beth Israel
Reference Number 13000162
State Connecticut
County Windham
Town Danielson Town of Killingly
Street Address 39 Killingly Drive, Danielson Town of Killingly, CT
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 04/16/2013
Areas of Significance ARCHITECTURE, ETHNIC HERITAGE/EUROPEAN, RELIGION
Link to full file http://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/13000162.pdf
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Temple Beth Israel is significant for both its historical and architectural value, under Criteria A and C, respectively, at the State level of significance. Properties owned by religious institutions or used for religious purposes are usually not considered eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. However, Temple Beth Israel is a remarkably well-preserved example of a Modem Movement religious building. It was designed by two Jewish architects who were active in the Boston, Massachusetts area, which was an important center of Modem design in the 1950s. Temple Beth Israel was among the first synagogues in Connecticut designed in a wholly Modernist style, by graduates of two of the most prestigious art and design programs in the nation and who were studying, working alongside, and influenced by some of the most famous names in architecture of their generation. This building derives much of its significance from this architectural or artistic distinction. It is also significant because it was built largely by survivors of the Holocaust, who, while retaining their ethnic identity, decided on a distinctly American building for their place of worship. The first year of the period of significance is 1951, when the building was designed, ground was broken for the construction, and the basement level was completed, giving the congregants space to worship until 1961 when the main floor and sanctuary were completed. The last year of the period of significance is 1963, in keeping with the 50-year threshold for National Register of Historic Places properties. Temple Beth Israel owes its significance to several important factors. It is a religious building, used for decades by a mixed Orthodox and Conservative Jewish congregation. Both its design and heritage reflect the experiences of its members, most specifically the Holocaust of World War II. And yet, despite the fact that many of its members had recently emigrated from the Old World of Eastern Europe, the Temple came to be designed by two American Jews working at the height of the country's Modernist movement. They created a building for the congregation that represented the newest trend in quintessentially American architecture.

 

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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria