B'nai Abraham Synagogue (B'nai Abraham Museum and Cultural Center)
The B'nai Abraham Synagogue, now the B'nai Abraham Museum and Cultural Center, was a Jewish synagogue located in Virginia, Minnesota. Built in 1909, it is a red-brick building constructed in the Romanesque style. It is a prominent structure in the neighborhood and was one of four synagogues in northeastern Minnesota. It was an important place for the Jewish community in Virginia and the surrounding area for decades, hosting Bar Mitzvhas, weddings, birthday celebrations, and other events. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, the first synagogue in Minnesota to be listed in the registry.
Backstory and Context
Women in the congregation created a group called the B'nai Abraham Ladies' Society in 1908 in order to raise funds for the new synagogue, which was finished a year later. It was the only synagogue in Minnesota that was built; the others were converted from churches. Notable features included the thirteen stained glass windows its red-brick facade.
The latter half of the 1900s saw a gradual decline in membership. By the mid-1990s the synagogue was forced to close. In 2004, the organization Friends of the B'nai Abraham was formed to gather funds to restore the synagogue, which is still ongoing. It reopened in 2008 as a museum and cultural center. The Friends and the Virginia Area Historical Society manage the center together.
Skrief, Charles. "B'nai Abraham Synagogue," National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. August 18, 1980. http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/text/80004356.PDF.