The Isaac Solomon Synagogue, once the spiritual center of the Jewish Consumptives’ Relief Society, has been turned over to its owner by the foundation that sought for years to restore and repurpose the historic structure.
Eugene Kay, the last chairman of the JCRS Isaac Solomon Historic Synagogue Foundation — which until early last year had a 90-plus year lease on the building — told the Intermountain Jewish News this week that in late 2012 the foundation forfeited that lease, returning control of the former synagogue to the Rocky Mountain School of Art and Design (RMCAD), current owners of the campus that was once home to the JCRS in Lakewood.
The art school hopes to eventually transform the small but architecturally significant synagogue into a gallery for student artwork as well as a memorial to the predominately Jewish population that once sought treatment for tuberculosis at JCRS.
After years of raising funds and grant money, and making significant progress on repairing and restoring components of the building, Kay said the foundation concluded that the challenge of full restoration was simply too tough to overcome.
Remaining restoration costs for the synagogue — primarily for interior projects — are estimated at $450,000.
“It wouldn’t have been a lot of money for History Colorado,” Kay said, “but they had already given us the money to fix up the outside.”
Efforts to raise funds from the city of Lakewood proved unsuccessful, as did, to any significant degree, appeals to the Denver Jewish community, which never showed serious interest in the project, according to Kay.
“We didn’t think we could get the Jewish community excited enough for a building in that location,” Kay said.
“If people are going to take a tour of Jewish Denver, they’re going to go to the Mizel Museum or the JCC, not the West Side.”
The foundation also looked at the possibility of moving the structure.
“You can move any building,” Kay said. “It’s just a question of how, but this building is of such a design that you’d literally have to take it apart brick by brick.”
Moving the building from its historic original location would not only have been forbiddingly expensive but also would have meant losing its historical landmark designation and the many benefits that accompany that.