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Latitude: 52.4761 / 52°28'34"N
Longitude: -1.9033 / 1°54'11"W
OS Eastings: 406667
OS Northings: 286469
OS Grid: SP066864
Mapcode National: GBR 5ZB.N8
Mapcode Global: VH9Z2.Y1P4
Entry Name: Athol Masonic Building
Listing Date: 28 April 2006
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1391675
English Heritage Legacy ID: 494811
Location: Birmingham, B1
Electoral Ward/Division: Ladywood
Built-Up Area: Birmingham
Traditional County: Warwickshire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands
Church of England Parish: Birmingham St Luke
Church of England Diocese: Birmingham
SK SEVERN STREET
28-APR-06 ATHOL MASONIC BUILDING
Masonic Hall, formerly synagogue. 1827, Richard Tutin; 1871-4, Henry Naden; 1891, Essex and Nicol. Red brick with stuccoed dressings.
FACADE: Three-storeyed to the street front, single-storeyed behind. Street front is of 1891 by Essex and Nicols of red brick with stuccoed dressings. It has 4 bays divided by banded pilasters. At left is a doorway and to right are 3 small, square windows of 3X3 panes, each set in a recessed panel with a plain apron. Above is an entablature. The first floor bays are divided by small paired pilasters and the 2 central windows have splayed heads. The flat-roofed attic dormer has been extended to accommodate 8 windows.
INTERIOR: The front rooms, added in 1891, house a staircase, meeting and robing rooms and the present bar. Beyond these lies the synagogue of Richard Tutin built in 1827 and now used as the lodge room. This has plain pilasters dividing the walls and a deeply coved ceiling. To the centre of the far, south-east, end is the recess for the ark, which now has a flat wall to the rear, but which Pigett-Smith's Board of Health plan of 1859-60 showed as having an apsidal rear wall, before the dining rooms were added to the Masonic Lodge. At either side are fluted, baseless, Greek Doric columns, with pilaster responds to the sides [distyle in antis. Above is a Doric entablature and above the cornice are antifixae. Beyond this room is the dining room added by Henry Nadan in 1871-4 which has ceiling brackets, fire surrounds and overmantel mirror surrounds all decorated with 5 and 6-sided stars and other Masonic and Hebrew insignia.
HISTORY: The oldest part of the present building is the lodge room, built as a synagogue in 1827 by Richard Tutin. Following the building of the Singer street Synagogue the building was sold to the Freemasons and, as Athol Lodge, became the second lodge in the city. The dining room and ante rooms were added by Henry Nadan in 1871-74 and built by Moffat. After the founding of the Jewish 'Lodge of Israel' in 1874 the two lodges shared the building. The front of the building facing Severn Street was remodelled by Essex and Nicol in 1891.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: The Athol Masonic Building is an early example of a synagogue in Birmingham, a city which became a stronghold for Judaism in England. The function of the synagogue chamber has changed but the architectural form of the room has remained little altered, including the surround to the Ark. The architecture is an elegant essay in the Greek Revival style and every part of the room shows a clear and precise use of proportions. The accompanying dining room, added in the later C19, is a good and complete survival of a club-style interior of the date, and the fact that one of the lodges using the building was almost exclusively Jewish, means that the two interiors are resonant.
SOURCES: Foster, A. "The Buildings of England. Birmingham" (Pevsner Architectural Guides, London) p.208.
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