New Book: Beth Sholom Synagogue

News of another single-site book: Beth Sholom Synagogue: Frank Lloyd Wright and Modern Religious Architecture by Joseph M. Siry.

It’s both hefty (736 pages) and expensive ($65), but , according to this review in The Jewish Daily Forward, comprehensive (mostly, the review points out that Wright’s possible anti-Semitism is ignored) and carefully builds up the context for one of Wright’s last commissions:

Following a brief introduction, Siry spends the first half of his book laying out the larger biographical and architectural contexts for Wright’s design. He explains how the architect’s Unitarian religious background led him to develop a respectful attitude toward Judaism. He discusses how Wright’s experience working at the Chicago firm of Adler Sullivan exposed him to innovative synagogue designs at the turn of the century, most notably the comparatively modern Kehilath Anshe Ma’ariv, which opened in 1891.

And he shows how the architect’s designs for a series of Christian churches and chapels between the late 1920s and early ’40s helped Wright develop his own unique solution to the central architectural question of how to make a modern construction that would signify a denominational ideal.

The author, Joseph Siry, is an architectural historian and professor at Wesleyan University. He’s previously written books on Unity Temple, the Auditorium Building and the Carson, Pirie Scott Building.