In the June issue of
Colorado Central Magazine
By William Korn
Leadville’s preeminence amongst the mining camps of the High Rockies attracted adventurers and opportunists from distant places including a significant population of Jews, many of whom were recent immigrants from western and central Europe. Predominantly arising from a culture of peddling and small shops, Jewish merchants became an important element in Leadville’s business district along Harrison Avenue. Enjoying the general prosperity of the boomtown, the Jewish community was sufficiently established by 1884 that it was able to commission the construction of a proper place of worship: the Temple Israel synagogue.
Reflecting the assimilationist aesthetic of the reform movement which had followed the immigrants from Germany, the Temple Israel building was conceived in the Carpenter Gothic style then popular and is a perfect match for the identically formed St. George Episcopal Church (1880) directly across West 4th Street. The Temple served as the physical focus of Jewish life in Leadville until 1914 although a schism in 1892 led the more orthodox to hive off to a second synagogue, Knesseth Israel, on West 5th Street. Read more