Grand Choral Synagogue is a testament to the determination of the Jewish community of St. Petersburg, which faced many restrictions on land use. Designed in a fusion of Byzantine and Moorish styles, the synagogue was built after a royal decree by Alexander II permitted Russian Jews, with significant restrictions, to live within the city of St. Petersburg. The community secured permission for the building in 1869, but it was not completed and consecrated until 1893. The effort was presided over by Horace Evselevich Ginzburg, chairman of St. Petersburg’s Jewish community. German forces bombed the synagogue during the Siege of Leningrad, though the building remained in use as a hospital during the war.
Conservation provided opportunities for increased use
In 2002, we assisted Grand Choral Synagogue with surveys to understand the extent of water infiltration problems affecting the building’s foundation, walls, and interior decorative suite. Water particularly threatened previously completed conservation work, including finishes on the main floor of the sanctuary and the synagogue’s carved, painted, and gilded interiors. We contributed to efforts to improve drainage and introduce waterproofing measures to protect the interior finishes.
Grand Choral Synagogue represents an important era in Russian Jewish history. Conservation of the building provided opportunities for increased use and enjoyment of the building by its congregation as well as visitors. It continues to serve the city’s Jewish population today.