B'nai Abraham Synagogue: Exterior Restoration and Occupancy Code Requirements
(b) Statewide Historic and Cultural Grants. (i) $2,250,000 in 2010 and $4,500,000 in 2011 are appropriated for history programs and projects operated or conducted by or through local, county, regional or other historical or cultural organizations; or for activities to preserve significant historic and cultural resources. Funds are to be distributed through a competitive grants process. The Minnesota Historical Society shall administer these funds using established grants mechanisms, and with assistance from the advisory committee created herein.
To repoint masonry and preserve windows of the B'nai Abraham Synagogue, undergoing rehabilitation for use as a community center. The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Virginia, Minnesota's beautiful synagogue building, B'nai Abraham, begun in 1909 and dedicated in 1910, ceased functioning as a religious structure in the 1990s. It is being restored and transformed into a community resource containing a museum, an auditorium and a social hall. the sturdy red brick structure with it's stained glass windows, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1980s and is the only synagogue building in Minnesota to be so honored. The grant enabled the continuation of the restoration of the building, specifically tuck pointing the exterior to stabilize the building and protect it from leaks as well as heat loss, the restoration of two of the thirteen deteriorating stained glass windows and complete the replacement of the severely deteriorated hardwood floor.
As the building becomes closer to complete restoration, more groups come to visit and use the building for a variety of events. Some of the events which have taken place are:
- Two concerts by Mary LaPlante, champion fiddler
- A site for two Building America Programs, sponsored by the Minnesota Humanities Center
- A concert by the Northern Lights Chamber Players
- Two concerts by a Klezmer group
- A rededication service and luncheon
- Two lectures - one on the history of the building and one on the restoration of the windows
- MHS staff held a informational session on the legacy grants for the region