Downtown Bryan’s Freda Temple was originally built in 1912 as a synagogue and the oldest religious structure in Brazos County.
It is currently closer to a full recovery in the City of Bryan and structural renovations will continue this week after City Council approved a Phase 2 construction contract worth nearly a quarter of a million dollars. dollars.
“What makes Temple Freda an interesting piece of architecture is that it is the oldest piece of religious architecture in Brazos County,” said Lindsey Guindi, the city’s director of strategic projects. . “We don’t expect it to remain a synagogue at this point because it’s really meant to be a community space. We anticipate that things like small concerts, meetings, weddings will take place there. At this point it will not retain the status or use of a synagogue, [after] the city took possession of it several years ago.
Ultimately, the city would like to turn it over to a nonprofit organization to manage and maintain it on behalf of the community, Guindi said, and it’s one of three historic Bryan structures that still stand. need a restoration of this magnitude.
People also read…
At Tuesday night’s meeting, the board approved a $224,226 construction contract with Caffey & Sons of Bryan to complete Phase 2 of the project. Bryan Mayor Andrew Nelson said after the meeting that he was excited to begin this next phase.
“We renovated the Queen, Carnegie Library, there are only a few dominoes left and we haven’t done them all,” he said. “For several years we’ve been investing money in Temple Freda and what we’ve approved tonight is structural improvements, and it’s really about continuing to make the building safe and to make it structurally sound so that it can complete the building.”
Restoration efforts have been a long time coming, Guindi said. Phase 1 of the restoration project was the initial securing of the building.
“Phase 1 included redesigning the columns at the front of the building as well as repairing brick and mortar and structural repairs on the exterior of the building at the rear of the building,” she said. “Phase 2 is just a continuation where we continue internal structural repairs. … There is still the original metal ceiling inside the building. We will be removing that metal ceiling and packing it up to replace it. or restore it at some point in the future. We will rebuild all the windows at the back of the building and we will dismantle the ceiling fans, light fixtures and put them away for restoration. This phase is the last phase of securing the building .
After Phase 2 is completed, the temple should continue to be structurally sound, airtight and weatherproof for the next 100 years, Guindi said. Additionally, the next phases will include updating the building’s interior and replacing light fixtures and HVAC systems, she said.
“If you were to enter it after we’re done, pretty much everything will stay the same or be restored. We’re hoping that when we’re done and people come in, it’ll be like 1912, so pretty much everything will look the same,” she said. “The only thing that will potentially be noticeably different are the benches, as we anticipate there will be a bit more flexible seating inside in case you don’t want to use it in its traditional setting, so the benches will be gone but we still have them. Other than that, we expect it to look pretty much the same as it did 100 years ago.
Architect Studio, a local architectural firm, was really instrumental in achieving this goal, Guindi said.
“We’re using their architects and their expertise to really do proper restoration work on this building, and without them we wouldn’t be where we are today,” she said.
Nelson also noted that the story of the Freda Temple is wonderful when it was a “religious building; and it was according to our historical research, the only Jewish temple dedicated to a Jewish woman in North America, and possibly one of three in the world.
“Bryan is such a wonderfully diverse community…and I love the story of Temple Freda because you had the Episcopal Church donating land to the Jewish community so they could also celebrate their religion,” said Nelson. “And even though they were two very different religions, it was so Bryan. Since the late 1800s, we already had this culture of helping each other and while we didn’t worship in the same way, we were still one big community. It’s a great story of the town of Bryan and our community and collaboration. I think it makes sense to take this grand, historic and beautiful building and make it the next domino to fall to have it fully renovated. The council approved this because we have long supported the renovation of beautiful historic buildings in Aggieland.