Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington


Synagogue Restoration and New Museum Development

Washington, DC

23,500 sf / 2,180 sm

Architecture, Engineering

“The Lillian and Albert Small Museum will involve visitors directly in the drama of a Jewish community that is part of the fabric of Washington’s rich urban life, its unique national status, and its central role in world affairs.”

—Russell Smith, President, Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington


The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington acquired the 1876 Adas Israel Synagogue, the oldest synagogue building in Washington, D.C., when the building was moved to its present site in 1969, saving it from demolition and spearheading extensive restoration work. The Synagogue has been the centerpiece of the Society’s activities to tell the story of the significant contributions of the Jewish community to the development of life in the Nation’s Capital. Although it has served as a symbol of that story, the building could not safely accommodate the Society’s archival collection of historical records and artifacts nor provide the needed exhibition space to chronicle, preserve, and interpret Washington Jewish history. 

The Society has determined to transform itself, bringing to fulfillment its designation as the Lillian and Albert Small Jewish Museum. The Society has agreed with the developer of Capitol Crossing, a mixed-use development now under construction, to move the 1876 Synagogue a second time to a prominent corner site at 3rd and F Streets NW near a number of major Washington museums. The Society is working with SmithGroupJJR to restore the 1876 building and to join it to a new adjacent Museum. Currently in the design phase, the Small Jewish Museum complex will be a new and dramatic gateway entrance to the Capital Crossing.The Museum will provide permanent exhibition space, serve as an educational facility to foster greater understanding of Jewish heritage in the DC community and include family gathering spaces, a classroom/multi-purpose room, offices and proper storage for the Museum’s archival collections.