Did you know that prior to building the current Wise Center in Amberley Village in 1976, Wise Center was located in North Avondale?
The building on the corner of Reading Road and North Fred Shuttlesworth Circle (formerly North Crescent Avenue) was designed by Cincinnati architect A. Lincoln Fechheimer and completed in 1927 as a satellite to Plum Street Temple. The purpose of the Reading Road structure was to provide congregants who were moving from downtown to the suburbs in large numbers with a more conveniently located temple and religious school.
When the Isaac M. Wise Center opened there in April of 1927, High Holy Days, festivals, and ordination services of Hebrew Union College became the primary functions of Plum Street Temple.
The center in Amberley Village was built in 1976 as congregants moved even further into the suburbs.
Although not a household name today, Fechheimer was a successful Jewish American architect in his day who also designed Hebrew Union College in Clifton and other public-use buildings such as the Ault Park Pavilion and Wilson Auditorium on the University of Cincinnati campus. Because Plum Street Temple’s Byzantine-Moorish design and decorations had been ground-breaking in 1866, Fechheimer chose to replicate that playbook, striking out in a new architectural direction for the Reading Road building rather than taking a more traditional and safe design path, like the Classical style which was common to synagogue design for many years. The result was a Neo-Romanesque Revival structure with Art Deco and Modernistic flourishes.
Perhaps you attended services or religious school at this former site, or perhaps you’re just interested in the rich history of Wise Temple and its forward-thinking architectural solutions, but in either case, the status of the Wise Center building on Reading Road is providing a learning opportunity. The building now houses the Zion Temple First Pentecostal Church, and was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. To recognize this designation, Zion Temple has invited Wise Temple congregants to share in their celebration by attending an afternoon of meeting and greeting, a dessert reception, tour, and a special presentation on the building’s history and how it came to receive the honor of entry onto the National Historic Register.
Wise in Zion: Revisiting Our Past takes place from 3-4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 8, at the Zion Temple First Pentecostal Church, 3771 Reading Road, Cincinnati 45229. RSVPs required.