Tuesday, April 23, 2024 -
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Historical landmark status for Trinidad’s Temple Aaron

The National Historic Landmarks Program announced the designation of 16 new National Historic Landmarks by US Secretary of the Interior Debra Haaland on Dec. 11. 

Temple Aaron in Trinidad, Colorado.

Included among the new landmarks is Temple Aaron of Trinidad, Colo. 

These new and marks were recommended by the National Historic Landmarks committee and the National Park System advisory board at two meetings in late 2022 and the summer of 2023. 

Temple Aaron is now one of 2,636 National Historic Landmarks in the US, 26 of which are in Colorado. 

Temple Aaron is the oldest continuously operating synagogue in its original location in the Rocky Mountain West and is one of only eight synagogues to become National Historic Landmarks. 

Temple Aaron joins Winks Panorama, a historically black resort community in Gilpin County, as Colorado’s newest landmark.

Jennifer Orrigo Charles, executive director of Colorado Preservation, Inc., who sponsored the nomination under the guidance of National Park Service Golden Region staff, said, “We are thrilled to welcome Colorado’s two newest National Historic Landmarks that reflect the highest level of historic preservation honors while celebrating our state’s rich and diverse historic heritage.” 

After a rigorous nomination and review process, Temple Aaron was deemed to have national historic significance based on three criteria: 

1) Temple Aaron is nationally significant for its association with the westward migration of Jewish families and individuals from Europe, 1840-1924, representative of the broad patterns of immigration and settlement in the US; 

2) Temple Aaron’s founders played important leadership roles in the civic life of the community and in its economic growth, in addition to its spiritual or religious life; and 

3) Temple Aaron is an excellent example of synagogue architecture constructed by the renowned architectural firm of Bulger & Rapp in the exotic Moorish Revival style employed by Reform Jewish congregations during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Temple Aaron retains its distinctive interior and exterior integrity. 

The designation adds important recognition and momentum for Temple Aaron’s historic preservation and congregation building efforts. The long-time synagogue nearly closed its doors in 2017 and was placed on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places list that year. Since then, a group of individuals and organizations has rallied to save the building and achieved a number of milestones, including celebrating the temple’s 130th anniversary in 2019 at a large community event. 

A community of more than 1,500 supporters and 80 member families has formed, and people far and wide come to celebrate religious holidays, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and other life cycle events there. 

In recognition of this progress, Temple Aaron will receive Colorado Preservation, Inc.’s Endangered Places Progress Award at the Dana Crawford Awards dinner, May 20, 2024, at Denver Botanic Gardens. 

Neal Paul, president of the Temple Aaron board, stated, “We are thrilled to have achieved these important milestones toward preservation of the Temple and are excited to work with our growing community of supporters to build on the rich historic legacy of the founders and families who established the congregation nearly 140 years ago.” 

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