Maitland Synagogue (former) | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Maitland Synagogue (former)

Item details

Name of item: Maitland Synagogue (former)
Other name/s: Synagogue, The Old Synagogue
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Synagogue
Location: Lat: -32.7340058846 Long: 151.5532049760
Primary address: 47 Church Street, Maitland, NSW 2320
Parish: Maitland
County: Northumberland
Local govt. area: Maitland
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Mindaribba
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT10 DP617237
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
47 Church StreetMaitlandMaitlandMaitlandNorthumberlandPrimary Address
Banfield StreetMaitlandMaitlandMaitlandNorthumberlandAlternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Fernlic Pty LtdPrivate 

Statement of significance:

The Maitland Synagogue is of historic significance in its associations with the strong Jewish community in the area and their contribution to the success and importance of Maitland as a trading centre in the latter half of the 19th century. The Synagogue is an important element in the streetscape of Church Street. (Heritage Office file)
Date significance updated: 02 Feb 00
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: John W Pender
Builder/Maker: James Pritchard
Construction years: 1879-
Physical description: The building is a small symmetrical solid brick structure with slate roof and high eliptical lath and plaster ceiling. It was designed in the Romanesque Revival style and displays elaborate cement-rendered details, including corbelled aracades and columns, quatrefoil windows and round-headed arches. The interior retains its original cedar windows which are still in good condition, although parts of the walls have been altered by successive owners. It is approximately 8m by 13m in size. (Branch Managers Report 1983)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good.
Date condition updated:15 Oct 99
Modifications and dates: 1879 - constructed
c. 1936 - flooring replaced and gallery and Ark removed
c. 1985 converetd into Credit Union
Current use: Credit Union
Former use: Place of Worship, school, Masonic Lodge, entertainment hall, motor repair


Historical notes: For at least the first half of the 150 years' history of Maitland, the Jewish community provided a strong contribution to the development of the district. As number of Jewish settlers increased it was decided to build a Synagogue, and land was purchased in Church Street.

J.W Pender prepared alternative designs for the Synagogue in 1878, and the present building was the less elaborate and probably the less expensive of the two. John Pender was the founder of the architectural practice known as Pender & Associates.

The foundation stone was laid by L.W. Levy on 24 February 1879, when Morris Benjamin was president of the congregation. The building was constructed in 1879 by James Pritchard to meet the needs of the then substantial Jewish community.

The synagogue was consecrated on 7 September 1879 by the Rev A.B. Davis of the great Synagogue, together with the Rev S.A. Goldstein, Maitland's Minister. However during the 1890s depression, the Jewish community declined in numbers to the point when in 1898, the Synagogue was finally closed. (Australian Jewish Times, pp2, 1982)

When it ceased to operate as a synagogue, the building became a private school, and then a Masonic lodge. Circa 1936 the original flooring was replaced with narrow, secret nailed boards more suitable for dancing than the original wide, shot-edge boards and was used during World War II as a dance hall to entertain soldiers. About this time the gallery and the Ark were demolished.

In 1946 a large opening was made in the east wall and timber framed galvanised iron additions were made to the east and south sides. (Pender & Associates P/L undated) (Branch Managers Report 29/10/1981 & 17/01/1985)

The building has been used as a motor vehicle repair shop.

In 1981 a s.130 Order was placed over the building as a result of its poor condition and the possibility of demolition. In 1983 an Interim Conservation Order was placed over the building. The then owners of the property advised that they wished to demolish the building in order to redevelop the site. The building was not considered beyond restoration and was in a good position for a sympathetic use. In 1985 a Permanent Conservation Order was placed over the building.

In 1986 the building was converted into a Credit Union which is its current use.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Ethnic influences-Activities associated with common cultural traditions and peoples of shared descent, and with exchanges between such traditions and peoples. (none)-
6. Educating-Educating Education-Activities associated with teaching and learning by children and adults, formally and informally. (none)-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Involvement with the Second World War-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Much of the success and importance of Maitland as a trading centre in the latter half of the 19th century can be attributed to the strong Jewish community. The Maitland Synagogue was built two years after the erection of the Great Synagogue in Sydney and is the oldest surviving example outside Sydney of the very few synagogues built within New South Wales. (Heritage Office File)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Synagogue is an important element in the streetscape of Church Street, complementing other heritage items including Grossman House, Brough House and the splendid Blacket Church, St Mary’s and its Rectory. (Heritage Office File)
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0037602 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0037612 Sep 86 142 

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Maitland Heritage Walk (Central Precinct) View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Maitland Heritage Walk (Central Precinct) View detail

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045591
File number: S90/06274 & HC 32932

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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