WATCH: DC’s oldest synagogue moves

WASHINGTON — Here’s something you don’t see often — a synagogue traveling down a D.C. Street. But that’s what happened.

The historic building that once housed the original Adas Israel Synagogue — the oldest synagogue in the District — moved from its current storage location at the corner of 3rd and G streets Northwest, to 3rd and F streets Northwest.

A remote-controlled dolly system moved the building to the new site where construction of the Capital Jewish Museum is beginning. The museum is expected to be finished in 2021.

The building has been at 3rd and G streets for the last year and half as the Capitol Crossing mixed-use development is built. Capitol Crossing is a $1.3 billion project that will reconnect the east end of downtown with Capitol Hill, via a massive platform to be constructed atop Interstate 395.

Built in 1876, this was the synagogue’s third move, according to the D.C. Preservation League’s Facebook page.

‘A really exciting day’

Rabbi Hannah Spiro of Hill Havurah offered a traditional Jewish traveler’s prayer Wednesday morning before the move.

“This is a really exciting day,” said Kara Blond, the executive director of the Capital Jewish Museum. “For us, this is the very beginning of the building of this new museum,” a facility which will “literally embrace the old synagogue.”

For the first 30 years after its completion in 1876, the building was a synagogue, but then, Blond said, “It became a series of Greek Orthodox and African-American churches. It was home to a deli and a barbecue restaurant and a barbershop. It’s got this amazing urban life story.”

Carolyn Alper, of D.C., said it was the second time she’d seen the synagogue move. “It’s amazing to watch, isn’t it?”

Alper said her grandfather used to clean the synagogue, and her father contributed to the cause of moving the building the previous time, so it wouldn’t be torn down. Her grandfather “would be dumfounded” by the massive scale of the move. “He didn’t even drive. And to see a truck like this …”

She said her grandfather and father would be moved by the historical significance, too.

“To see how much was invested in keeping our history moving, and to be proud of being Jewish, and to see how much effort is being made to continue their tradition, is a big deal.”

WTOP’s Melissa Howell and Rick Massimo contributed to this report.

Colleen Kelleher

Colleen Kelleher is an award-winning journalist who has been with WTOP since 1996. Kelleher joined WTOP as the afternoon radio writer and night and weekend editor and made the move to in 2001. Now she works early mornings as the site's Senior Digital Editor.

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