Historic Synagogue on Iron Range Preserved as Arts Center

The Friends of B’nai Abraham are pleased and excited to announce that it has transferred ownership of the historic B’nai Abraham Museum and Cultural Center in Virginia, Minnesota, to Northern Lights Music Festival, which has been putting on classical music concerts across the Iron Range and in the former synagogue building for many years.

In 2004-2005, the Friends of B’nai Abraham acquired the B’nai Abraham Synagogue. The “Friends” applied for and were granted 501c(3) status and embarked on a campaign to fulfill its stated mission of Repair, Restoration, and Reuse. The “Friends” provided immediate emergency stabilization for the 100-year-old historic structure, including extensive clean-up, a new roof, ceiling, and flooring, repair of utilities such as heat, water, plumbing, fixtures, and conducted a reuse study to determine the best future reuse for the building.

B'nai Abraham from Dale Bluestein on Vimeo.

The “Friends” raised the needed funds, in part, through its programming and use of the building as a performance venue for many musical events. After 15 years of renovation and restoration, the job has now been completed with help from many local craftsmen and donations and grants from a broad range of interested individuals and organizations. The building houses a museum relating to the Jewish community that once lived on the Iron Range and worshipped at this building.

The “Friends” goal has always been to restore the building and ensure that it survives for the long-term as a performance space for the people of Virginia to enjoy and to be able to learn about the Jewish community who used this space. Northern Lights is a “not for profit corporation” that has agreed, as a term of its ownership of the building, to retain the exterior of the building and the interior artifacts, windows and museum as they are today to be enjoyed by future generations. Northern Lights Music Festival has a premier venue going forward for its musical events.