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Home Sweet Home?

LIGONIER, IND. (WPTA21)-Main Street, Ligonier, Indiana, the most prestigious neighborhood in town where Ligonier’s movers and shakers flaunted their wealth through the grand homes they built. And now one of these Main Street masterpieces is up for grabs.

Nestled among Main Street’s mansions is this humble and historic building, the Ahavath Sholom Synagogue, built in 1889 by Ligonier’s then growing Jewish population. Jewish families began arriving in the 1850’s, among them two brilliant businessmen, Solomon Mier and Fredrick Strauss. The two built the town’s biggest industries, this is the Mier Carriage and Buggy factory eventually turning out automobiles. As more Jewish families arrived the community built their synagogue. Today, home of the Ligonier historical society.

“We’re really just a handful of people who like history,” says Historical Society member Cyndi Schlemmer, “and are trying to preserve some Ligonier history.”

Where worshipers once prayed historic artifacts and records are displayed all of them basking in the harlequin light of the synagogue’s magnificent stained glass windows, each depicting an important chapter in the life of King David. The original central chandelier is in place as is the hand carved Torah Ark that once held the Torah scrolls. But the Historical Society will soon preserve their town’s history elsewhere. The synagogue is for sale.

“I mean it could be kind of a cool coffee shop, book shop,” says Schlemmer. ‘How about a home?’ we ask. “Yea it could be a home. Other people have taken old schools and old churches and turned them into homes.”

The building has not been an easy sell but eventually someone will recognize its value. Whatever its fate the Ahavath Sholom Synagogue will provide its new owner with a magnificent building unlike any other in Ligonier, beautiful and historic, and awaiting the chance to again serve the community it has helped nurture for 130 years.

Eric Olson

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