Special Architecture Walking Tour

This event is no longer on sale.

Sunday October 31

2:00 PM  –  4:00 PM


Beth Sholom synagogue, the “luminous Mount Sinai” that crowns the tallest hill in Elkins Park, is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most memorable designs. Completed and dedicated in September 1959, it was the product of a remarkable collaboration between Wright and Rabbi Mortimer Cohen.

The appearance of the concrete, steel, and glass structure changes with the season and the time of day. Inside, beneath the soaring glass dome, the sanctuary is transformed as clouds pass overhead and the sun arcs across the sky. More than one thousand worshippers can be seated in what resembles a natural basin—or a pair of cupped hands. As Wright said, “When you are sitting in a house of worship you should feel as if you are resting in the hands of the Almighty.”

Beth Sholom is a National Historic Landmark, and in 1960 it was identified by the American Institute of Architects as one of the seventeen buildings that best exemplify Wright's contribution to American architecture.

In addition to a comprehensive tour of the building, tour participants will have the opportunity to explore an exhibition of historic artifacts and photographs and view a documentary film, narrated by Leonard Nimoy, that is only screened on site. The visit will conclude with a brief illustrated presentation by University of Pennsylvania's architectural historian David Brownlee, who will place Beth Sholom in the context of the octogenarian Wright’s other designs from the 1950s, such as the seashell spiral of the Guggenheim Museum and the flying saucerish Marin County Civic Center. These powerfully sculptural, individualized buildings stand apart from the ubiquitous glass boxes of American "mid-century modernism.” 


Following the talk, visitors will have an opportunity to view the new self guided Sacred Spaces photography exhibit by Andrew Pielage. The show features over thirty photographs of Andrew Pielage’s work from a dozen Wright sites, with pieces selected to highlight the use of light, texture, and composition to create sanctified space. 


Meet at the entrance of the synagogue, 8231 Old York Road Elkins Park, PA 19027 (map).

Know Before You Go!

  • Free parking is available on site
  • This site is accessible by public transit via the 55 bus from the Olney Transportation Center on the Broad Street line or Elkins Park Station by Regional Rail- Please check transit schedules
  • Photography of Beth Sholom Synagogue, interior and exterior, is permitted for Personal Use Only
  • This talk and tour will be primarily indoors. Masks are required at this time.

Space is limited. Advance registration required.