Temple Emanuel

Although I haven’t blogged much in the past few months, I have been busy taking photographs and stumbling across incredible masonry buildings in Denver and the Front Range.  Take Temple Emanuel, for example, in Denver’s Uptown neighborhood.  The former Temple Emanuel synagogue at 16th Ave and Pearl Street was once the home of Denver’s oldest Jewish Congregation.  Originally constructed between 1898 and 1899 with a large addition in 1924, Temple Emanuel is reportedly the only Moorish- and Turkish-Revival style synagogue in Colorado (according to the building’s National Register nomination [pdf]).


Designed by architect John J. Humphreys of Wendell & Humphreys Architects, the original portion of the building includes the raised entrance and two Turkish-style towers.  The synagogue was constructed using simple buff brick, but laid with a projecting horizontal stripe pattern at the front facade on Pearl Street.


I am fond of the complexity of the masonry at the entrance.  The carved wooden doors are framed by paired stone columns with ornate capitals, and smooth-cut buff stone, which is possibly a sandstone but more likely is Indiana limestone.  A Moorish-style arched, leaded-glass transom rises above the stone lintel on which the synagogue’s name is carved.  More smooth-cut stone and buff brick surround the pointed, horseshoe-arched transom, and two rondels flank the top of the entry arch.  These rondels contain inset Stars of David that were probably made of limestone and painted stucco or glazed tiles.  Rising above the entrance and transom are six thin leaded-glass windows that also have Moorish-style influences in their shape and motifs.  The entire window and door enframement is then surrounded by two types of molded brick, one with a checkerboard pattern and another with an ogee frame.


The top of the building has an ornate, applied metal cornice, and a rose window in the parapet.  Unfortunately, extensive soiling of the masonry accentuates the horizontal stripe pattern of the brick and makes the stone surrounding the entrance look grayer than it originally would have.  The metal cornice is also severely deteriorated, with extensive corrosion evident especially at the top left side in the photo above.


Two Turkish-style minaret towers flank the original portion of the building.  These octagonal towers were built with buff brick and have thin horizontal openings capped by pointed arches.  I originally thought the top of the towers were made of carved stone, but upon closer inspection, I realized that like the cornice, they are made of molded sheet metal.  Corrosion has taken its toll and some of the ornament is lost and several railings are displaced.  However, the original form of the minarets is still quite legible despite the deterioration.


The large addition to the south of the building was constructed in 1924 and nearly doubled the size of the synagogue.  The addition was designed by Thielman Robert Wieger, an apprentice of Humphreys’, who gave the addition an architectural style nearly identical to the original building.  Seen above with the paired spires of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at the left, the addition can be differentiated from the original by its shorter tower and its ever-so-slightly more modest entrance.  The Denver Public Library has two wonderful photographs of the building taken before and after the construction of the addition to help you understand the construction chronology of the building.

The synagogue was the third home of Congregation Temple Emanuel, Denver’s oldest Reform Jewish congregation [pdf].  It was constructed at the southwest corner of 16th Avenue and Pearl Street after a fire destroyed the congregation’s second synagogue at 24th and Curtis Streets in 1897.  Members of the congregation in the late 1800s included the political, economic and cultural elite of Denver, including Simon Guggenheim, who became a U.S. Senator; Philip Trounstine, Denver’s first fire chief; John Elsner, who founded Denver’s first hospital; and David May, proprietor of May’s Department Store.  Congregation Temple Emanuel used the synagogue until 1957, when they sold the building to the First Southern Baptist Church.  Later congregations who used the building include the LovingWay Pentecostal Church and Pathways Church.  The building is now owned by the Denver Community Church.

The Masonry of Erlangen

Part Two of our trip to Germany entailed a visit with friends in Erlangen.  A beautiful city in northern Bavaria, Erlangen is home to the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), a large university with about 20,000 students.  The masonry of Erlangen is mainly stone, and much of the city’s architectural heritage was influenced by two important events: the arrival of French huguenot refugees in the late 1680s and a devastating fire in the old part of the city in 1706.  But there are also impressive nineteenth-century masonry structures throughout the city.

One of the most prominent buildings in town, the Erlangen palace (or Markgräfliches Schloss Erlangen), is owned by the university.  The palace was constructed between 1700 and 1704 and was used as a royal residence until 1814 when a fire gutted the building.  It was rebuilt by the university in the early 1820s.  The schloss faces the city’s market square and backs upon the schlossgarten, a public park.  Because Erlangen’s Christkindlmarkt was in the process of being erected, I wasn’t able to get a clear view of the front of the building, but its back is stately.


The building is made of a handsome pinkish-gray sandstone, which you can see in the photo below.


Another prominent building in Erlangen is the Hugenottenkirche, or the Huguenot Church.  It was built between 1686 and 1693 as a congregation for the huguenot settlers to Erlangen.  (The tower was added to the main church in the 1730s.)  The Huguenot Church was the centerpiece of the “new city” built by the huguenots to the south of the original city center.  The architect of the new city and the Huguenot Church was Johann Moritz Richter, the crown prince’s master planner and master builder.


Both the main part of the church and the tower were built using the same pinkish-gray sandstone that was used on the schloss.  This stone which must be native to the Erlangen area, as you see it on buildings all over town.  In addition, the tower has subtle baroque details, which is the predominant style of the new city’s architecture.


There are also a large number of late-eighteenth and nineteenth-century buildings in Erlangen, including these two buildings facing each other on Nürnbergerstraße near Güterhallenstraße.


The brick and sandstone building above houses a hotel and brasserie, and has wonderful polychrome brick details.


It faces an older limestone building with a richly-ornamented gable, a tower with a turret, and beautifully carved stone quoins.


But there is one thing you might not be able to see through the trees.  A knight carved into a niche at the corner, complete with a stone shield and a bronze jousting pole.


I was really curious what this building could be used for.  Our friends informed us it’s just another fraternity associated with the university.  I have seen some beautiful fraternity houses on American college campuses (and some horrid ones), but never a building this impressive or in such good condition.

Because we are on the topic of fraternities, it seems only fitting to finish our brief tour of Erlangen with an historic brewery.


The Erich Bräu building was built in 1870 on the Aldstädter Kirchenplatz in the old city.  In the late nineteenth century, Erich Bräu was the largest exporter of beer in Erlangen.  The brewery itself dates to the early 1700s, but it was purchased by Franz Erich in the mid-nineteenth century.  During his tenure, Franz Erich modernized the brewery and erected several new buildings along Aldtstädter Kirchenplatz, including this one.  This website has a brief history of Erich Bräu, as well as several historic drawings and photos of the brewery in Erlangen.  (All websites cited here are in German, but can be translated using Google Translate.)

Next time you visit Germany, be sure to spend a day in the charming city of Erlangen.  There are plenty of beautiful historic buildings, an impressive botanical garden run by the university, and lots of delicious food and drink.  I also hear there is a great beer festival every spring that rivals the more famous Oktoberfest in Munich.

The Masonry of Munich

When a masonry blogger goes on vacation, she takes way too many photos of masonry during her travels.  Needless to say, when I recently visited Bavaria (with a day trip to Salzburg, Austria), I photographed a lot of masonry buildings.  To mix things up a bit here at the Masonry of Denver, I thought I’d share some of the more interesting masonry structures I saw on my travels.  First up: The Masonry of Munich.

The last time I visited Bavaria was in 1999.  At that time, I didn’t digest the fact that most masonry structures in southern Germany and northern Austria are clad with stucco.  Stucco is not my favorite building material, but the stucco on German and Austrian buildings is often textured with sand or pebbles, or the stucco is pigmented.  It’s more interesting than your average stucco, but it’s still stucco.  Fortunately for us, everything in Munich isn’t covered in stucco.  And better yet, several incredible buildings survived World War II.

Take this beautiful stone building, for example.  It is on Thierschstraße in the Altstadt-Lehel neighborhood of Munich.  According to a Google search, it was built in 1889 and was designed by architects Albin Lincke and Max Littmann.  My German is non-existent, but it seems that these two gentlemen designed several prominent buildings in Munich in the late nineteenth century.


The beige sandstone used to clad this building is lovely, but the carvings are just wonderful.  These strong men (and a cherub) frame the entrance and support the oriel window on the second floor.


The stone carving is even more intricate at the top of the building, where you can see an angel blowing into a metal trumpet, a cherub supporting a cartouche, ornate palm fronds and foliage, brackets with lions heads, and some of the most fanciful urns I’ve ever seen.