Washington’s oldest synagogue is on the move again. Adas Israel, now home to the Lillian and Albert Small Jewish Museum, was uprooted from its foundation Thursday for the second time in its 140-year history.
The 273-ton red brick building was raised onto a steel platform and moved 50 feet to the southwest corner of Third and G streets NW, where it will stand for the next few years.
Much like its first move in 1969, the house of worship’s relocation will make way for new development near Judiciary Square.
“We first found out about the need for a second move several years ago, when the Capitol Crossing project was in early stages of development,” said Wendy Turman, deputy director of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington.
The relocation is part of Capitol Crossing, a $1.3 billion development by Property Group Partners.
The 7-acre expansion will house five buildings on a platform above the Interstate 395 tunnel between Union Station and Chinatown.
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“We’ve long been planning an expansion of our current activities, so this move comes at a perfect time for us,” said Ms. Turman. “The society has been working towards transforming to a new museum for many years.”
The historical society is planning a state-of-the-art Jewish history museum, Ms. Turman said.
It will tell the story of the District’s early Jewish immigrants who built Adas Israel, and will explore the heritage of the Washington-area Jewish community.
The synagogue eventually will move a third — and final — time to the corner of Third and F streets NW.
Nearly 50 years ago, the building made its first move when Metro built its downtown headquarters.
Jewish historians petitioned to save the site, and it took an act of Congress and President Nixon’s signature to save the historic building.
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The structure was built by German-Jewish immigrants who had been in the U.S. for less than 20 years. Ulysses S. Grant attended the July 9, 1876, dedication service, becoming the first sitting president to visit a synagogue.
“I hope this move excites and interests the public in the amazing rich history of the Jewish community in the nation’s capital,” said Ms. Turman. “We have a history that’s local, national and international — a history we will be proud to showcase in the new museum.”
The museum is scheduled to open in 2022.