Sydney Architecture Images- Gone but not forgotten

York Street Synagogue Plaque 35 of the Green Plaques


James Hume


York St.


Built- 1844   Demolished- 1879


Moorish Revival Victorian Egyptian


Rendered brick Stone


Summary A striking building in a very prominent location by the Town Hall. Used until the establishment of Sydney’s iconic Great Synagogue in 1878.
York Street Synagogue, Sydney

Sydney's burgeoning Hebrew congregation quickly outgrew the rented premises at Bridge Street. A circular was sent to members of the congregation in 1839, and the proposal to raise funds for a new synagogue quickly gained momentum. The Sydney Hebrew Congregation purchased a small block of land on York Street, not far from the present location of the Sydney Town Hall.

The foundation stone for the Sydney Synagogue was laid on 19 April 1842, and work commenced on an attractive building designed by James Hume in the Egyptian style. Two Tasmanian synagogues that remain standing today – one in Hobart and the other in Launceston – were designed in a similar style to that of the York Street building. The Sydney Synagogue continued to offer a full range of services to its congregation throughout the construction phase of its new premises.

Marriage contract

The Sydney Synagogue was consecrated on 2 April 1844. Music for the service was specially written by noted composers J. H. Anderson and Isaac Nathan. The Australian hoped the new synagogue would 'long be a distinguishing ornament of Sydney'. The York Street building served Sydney’s Jewish community for 35 years. A split in 1859 saw part of the congregation break away to form a new congregation based in Macquarie Street. The split lasted almost 20 years, until the two congregations reunited to establish Sydney’s iconic Great Synagogue in 1878.