Cultural Heritage Tours

A project of the ETHNIC HERITAGE CENTER

Downtown Tour

Jewish Community Center

1156 Chapel Street

(former)

Jewish Community Center at 1156 Chapel Street, c. 1960s.

The Jewish Community Center (JCC) held a ground-breaking ceremony on June 1, 1952 on this site. The new Center, an early work of famed architect Louis Kahn, was completed in 1954. The JCC flourished on Chapel Street and became the cornerstone of an upper Chapel Street revitalization. Then, as now, a strong membership was key to its success. Thousands of people’s lives were touched by hours spent at the Chapel Street JCC. Its many features included a teen lounge, a basement woodworking shop, summer day camp on the roof, a swimming pool, a health club, and bowling lanes.

By 1976, however, use of the downtown facility was in decline. At that time much of its membership had already moved north and west to the suburbs, and earlier the adjacent Legion Avenue neighborhood, previously home to much of New Haven’s Jewish community, had been razed. In 1982, the Chapel Street facility was placed on the market and the JCC began making plans for a move. The building was sold in 1985 and programs were housed in leased facilities until the new JCC in Woodbridge opened in November, 1993. The building now houses the Yale University School of Art.

  • Text source courtesy Jewish Historical Society of Greater New Haven Archives.

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