Thank you for your interest in the Agudas Achim windows. Preservation Chicago was able to save many of the beautiful decorative, art glass windows from the once magnificent Agudas Achim Synagogue in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood and are hoping to find good homes for them. Built in 1922 and designed by Dubin & Eisenberg, Agudas Achim was described as “the last grand Chicago synagogue” and was able to accommodate 2,200 congregants. Agudas Achim was a 2015 Preservation Chicago Most Endangered which played a significant role in ensuring it being saved and adaptively reused for residential apartments.
Preservation Chicago worked hard to save the Agudas Achim building from demolition. We were successful at saving the building exterior, and just before the historic interior was demolished for redevelopment, we were able to save many of the art-glass windows. Windows include the casement windows from the main floor, and smaller casement and arched windows from the balcony.
We were also able to deconstruct and save the massive arched window behind the ‘ahron hakodesh’. The mosaic ‘ahron hakodesh’ was saved. In addition to the windows, we were also able to save many plaster Lion of Judea column capitals, the eternal lamp, and the most of the ‘yahrzeit’ plaques.
Our hope is to find Chicago area synagogues or Jewish schools or Jewish institutions or Jewish philanthropists interested in ‘adopting’ these windows and other elements that are a beautiful legacy of Chicago’s Jewish community. Our plan is to donate the windows to interested Jewish congregations or organizations who commit to valuing and appreciating them. Our hope is for a donation to Preservation Chicago to cover our costs for removal and storage.
Per the agreement with the developer, the windows and other artifacts will be “donated by Alex Samoylovich, in honor of his co-founder in Cedar Street the late Jay Michael and Boris Samoylovich”.
Please let us know if you’re interested. We have a few of the windows at our office at Monroe and Wells which you are welcome to come and see. Many of the casement windows are in storage.
On February 23, 2023, the former Agudas Achim Synagogue’s Memorial Plaques Documentation Project was completed by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois. The project of photo-documenting the 500+ Memorial Plaques bronze plaques Preservation Chicago saved from Agudas Achim took about four hours, with two teams working on photographing the material, which will be further processed, organized and posted by The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois in the future. Four individuals—all volunteers from the Jewish Genealogical Society came into Preservation Chicago’s office to document these plaques and a small hand-size burial book of congregants that had passed. All will eventually be posted online and will serve in finding and remembering those that were part of Chicago’s Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation Synagogue. Having this information online, will help many families with genealogy information, including the material from the small booklet, noting names, address, cause of death, fees and burial site, in addition to the information listed in English and Hebrew on the Memorial Plaques. Before Preservation Chicago’s effort to rescue these bronze memorial plaques, they were likely going to end up in metal scrap yard. We couldn’t let that happen, so we intervened and saved all that remained on the walls of the sanctuary, library, and lobby. They are now being stored at Preservation Chicago’s office and we hope to donate them to a Jewish Institution that would serve as a permanent repository. The Memorial Plaques and the burial book will be entered into an online database. Some of these families have very famous names like “Manilow,” “Schwimmer,” “Crown” and the list goes on. While the synagogue was constructed in 1922, in the collection include plaques with earlier dates, including one bronze plaque dating to 1883. Its likely that these would have been moved to Agudas Achim from a former location with a family or during a merger of congregations.
Preservation Chicago is committed to strengthening the vibrancy of Chicago’s economy and quality of life by championing our historic built environment. Preservation Chicago protects and revitalizes Chicago’s irreplaceable architecture, neighborhoods and urban green spaces. We influence stakeholders toward creative reuse and preservation through advocacy, outreach, education, and partnership.