B'Nai Zion Temple
B'Nai Zion Temple is one of the more beautiful and recognizable landmarks in Shreveport. Constructed in 1915, the temple is a rare and excellent example of Beaux-Arts architecture which was popular around the country in the early 20th century. The three-story building features a large portico with Corinthian columns at the main entrance, the Star of David inscribed above the entrance, and two-story stained glass windows. The interior features an elaborate design and large worship space. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Backstory and Context
Jewish settlers, many from France and Germany, began to arrive in Shreveport in the 1850s. They formed a small congregation in 1857 and worshiped in a home. They chose the name Congregation Har-El in 1861. After the Civil War, the congregation changed its name to Hebrew Zion. In general, it adhered to the Reform movement but some members were traditional. Its first temple was built in 1870 and was located on Fannin Street between Edwards and Market Streets.
The congregation expanded in the coming years, growing to 150 members by 1910. Needing a larger space, they built the current temple building in 1915 after several years of planning and named it B'nai Zion. After World War II, the congregation grew to 308 members and kept growing, which prompted the construction of a new temple in 1955. By 1962, the congregation grew to 430 members. The congregation sold the temple on Cotton Street to the Knights of Columbus, which owned it for a number of years. A private foundation made some basic repairs to the building in 1993. However, the building has not been well-maintained in recent years and is in need of substantial repair.
"B'nai Zion Temple - Shreveport, Louisiana." Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities. Accessed December 27, 2019. https://www.isjl.org/louisiana-shreveport-bnai-zion-encyclopedia.html.
National Register Staff. "Bnai Zion Temple." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. May 16, 1997. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/73973079.
The Life of the Synagogue, College of Charleston https://lifeofthesynagogue.library.cofc.edu/?page_id=82