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The Ballarat Synagogue - Barkly Street, East Ballarat

The Ballarat Synagogue at 2 Barkly Street in East Ballarat, is one of the few surviving Nineteenth Century synagogues in Victoria. Designed by architect T. B. Cameron, the Synagogue was built in 1861. Situated on the Victorian goldfields, its importance was such that its first Rabbi was Av (head) of the first recognised Australian Beth Din. The gold rush brought many Jewish people to Ballarat and the first congregation was held in 1853 and for decades the local community was the largest in the Victorian colony.

 

The single storey building is one of the early surviving buildings in Ballarat and is important in the streetscape and townscape of the city and in the history of the area. Architecturally the structure is an interesting example of conservative Classical design, given distinction by the architectural treatment of its facade and portico. The main facade of the brick structure was corner Tuscan pilasters supporting a parapet entablature. Paired Tuscan squared columns and pilasters support the pedimented prostyle portico and the windows are roundheaded.

 

The interior of the building, with features such as the ladies gallery, is in very good condition. The interior seen today is the result of extensive remodeling in 1878 including notable internal use of Victorian iron lacework panels on the balconies of the gallery and magnificent ceiling fretworks from which hang impressive crystal chandeliers. Beautiful windows with blue and red stained glass panels fill the Synagogue with light. Presiding above all is a very grand arched stained glass window created in 1884, which according to legend, is made from glass taken from a 16th Century Irish mansion.

 

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Taken on May 13, 2012
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