1320 Lady Street
Original Site of the Tree of Life Congregation
In 1896, 18 members of Columbia's Jewish community who embraced Judaism's Reform branch, or liberal movement, organized as the Etz Chayim (Tree of Life). The congregation worshiped at the Independent Fire Company's station overlooking Sidney Park until 1905, when its members moved into the first temple built in Columbia after the Civil War. The Lady Street synagogue was a downtown landmark for over four decades. In 1950, the burgeoning congregation began making plans for a new temple. Two years later its members moved into a modern facility designed by the firm of Lyles, Bissett, Carlisle and Wolff and built by M.B. Kahn Construction. This unique addition to the Shandon neighborhood served the Reform congregation until 1986, when its members relocated to a new synagogue at 6719 North Trenholm Road in Forest Acres.