Built in 1884, Temple Israel is the oldest of the area’s frontier synagogues. After a fire in 2006, the building was historically restored to near original condition. It now serves as a museum and research institution that documents the lives of Jewish pioneers during Leadville’s mining boom era.
Jewish Immigrants in Leadville
When silver was discovered in Leadville, nearly 30,000 people flocked to the town. About 300 people—1 percent—of them were Jewish. While the image of the Jewish merchant has become stereotypical, many Jews found this role in the American West gave their families economic stability and the chance to lead their communities.
In Leadville, many Jews were clothiers, tailors, or clerks, or they sold liquor or ran saloons. Among the most storied is David May, later of The May Department Stores Company, who got his start with a dry goods store in Leadville.
Temple Israel served a surprisingly large and active Jewish community until about 1912. Although no longer a regular, active synagogue, the building has been fully restored and turned into the museum you can tour today.
- Open by appointment year-round; call ahead to arrange a tour.
- Open daily May-October
- 10:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.