Congregation Emanu El

1500 Sunset Boulevard
  • Architect
  • Year Built
  • Building Type
  • Neighborhood
    Rice University
  • Quadrant
  • Status
    Still With Us

Congregation Emanu El of Houston was organized as a Reform Jewish congregation in 1944. Worshippers held high holy days and Shabbat services at nearby churches. In 1945, the congregation purchased seven acres opposite Rice Institute (now Rice University) on Sunset Boulevard and in 1947 the congregation hired Architects MacKie and Kamrath and Lenard Gabert to design a permanent home. The use of horizontal elements like thin Roman brick and stone coping are reminiscent of Kamrath’s mentor, Frank Lloyd Wright. The original building, dedicated in 1949 was comprised of 65,000 square feet of floor space with a sanctuary seating 855 and social hall that held an additional 1800. At that time, these areas formed one of the largest spaces in the world under a cantilever roof, two-thirds of an acre without pillars.