The congregation's first ordained rabbi was Myer Sol Levy, who arrived in 1873 and served until 1881. For the remainder of the 1800s into the early 1900s, the congregation had numerous rabbis, most of whom had short tenures, and there were a few periods when the synagogue had no rabbi at all. For most of the Great Depression, the congregation was without a rabbi, and did not hire another rabbi until 1939.
In 1940, the synagogue burned to the ground. Only a few items were saved, including the Torah. When the current building was dedicated in 1948, the Torah and other items that were saved from the fire were moved to the new University Avenue location. The new temple was renamed Temple Emanu-El.