The Lloyd Street Synagogue, dedicated in 1845, is the first synagogue erected in Maryland and the third oldest surviving synagogue in the United States. A simple, elegant building in the popular Greek Revival style, it was designed for the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation by Robert Cary Long, Jr., the most prominent Baltimore architect of the mid-19th century. The first ordained rabbi in the United States, Rabbi Abraham Rice, served as the congregation's first spiritual leader after emigrating from Bavaria.
This beautiful old synagogue not only remains an important landmark in the history of American Jewry, but also stands as a symbol of Baltimore's role as a port of entry for generations of European immigrants. Three successive congregations occupied the site: Baltimore Hebrew Congregation (1845-1890, Central European Jews), St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church (1890-1905, Lithuanian Roman Catholics), and Shomrei Mishmeres Ha-Kodesh (1905-1963, East European Jews), each of which altered the building to meet its congregational needs.
When the building was threatened demolition in the early 1960s, the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland (now the Jewish Musuem of Maryland) purchased and restored the synagogue as an historic site. The restoration preserved the original wooden pews, women's balcony, cast iron fence, and magnificent painted glass windows. In the lower level, a study hall and chapel, social hall, ritual baths (mikvaot), and an oven used in the baking of Passover matzah (unleavened bread) shed light on the synagogue's role in community life through the decades.