Christian Church / Beth El Synagogue - Liberty St.

35.994034, -78.895882

Cross Street
Year built
Year demolished
Architectural style
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Building Type
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Queen St. has a bit of an on-again-off-again thing with the block between Holloway and Liberty St. The initial mid-to-late-1800s layout of Durham's streets had Queen terminate at Liberty St. on the north end.

Bird's Eye view, 1891.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

The church that can be seen at the head of Liberty St. (which formed an interesting symmetry across Roxboro with Trinity Methodist) was established as the Christian Church in Durham in 1887 and constructed this frame church soon thereafter, perhaps by 1889.

When Main St. Methodist church made use of funds from BN and JB Duke to build a new church on West Chapel Hill St., the Christian Church moved west to their former digs at Gregson and West Main in 1906.

The Hebrew Congregation had been established in 1892, but had no permanent structure for many years; they met "in a hall at the corner of Church and Main Sts." When the Christian Church vacated the structure at Liberty and N. Queen, they purchased the church for use as their first permanent synagogue. No actual pictures of the structure seem to exist / survive.

The synagogue evidently thrived and grew at this location, soon outgrowing the capacity of the frame building. Durham had also decided to extend streets on the east side into the lower lying areas to the north and east. The synagogue built a new structure at the new corner of N. Queen and Holloway coincident with the destruction of this building for the extension northward of Queen St.

This street was lined with new houses, which we will come to over the next few days, but this one-block section of Queen St. lasted 50 years. After these blocks were destroyed by urban renewal, Queen St. between Holloway and Liberty was once again closed and turned into parking lot for the library.

Looking north, 2007.


Hey, what happened to the pictures on this page? Can you fix the link to them?


Not sure what you mean - there are only supposed to be two pictures on this page (I'd love to have one of the old church/synagogue, but I've never seen one.)


FW, if you get the "red x" try hitting the refresh button. I see those pesky red x's a lot, but it seems to be a problem inherent with Blogspot, and a refresh usually brings the photos into view. Another option is to right-click on the red x and then click "show picture." (This makes an assumption that you are Windows-based and right-handed...sorry...)

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