Staff Writer
Donaldsonville Chief

The Ace Hardware Store in Donaldsonville is certainly the only hardware store in the United States located in a former  Jewish synagogue.  The old wooden structure at 301 Railroad Avenue, Donaldsonville, sells hammers, nails, paints, garden tools, and such in a space that was formerly the Bikur Cholim Synagogue, built in 1872.  It served as a place of worship for the Jewish population of Donaldsonville and environs until the late 1940s when the congregation was dissolved for lack of membership.

In 1955, the building was sold to Western Auto and subsequently became Ace Hardware.

On Sunday, May 18, at 2 PM, Congregation B’Nai Israel (Baton Rouge) will host the unveiling of a poster, to be permanently displayed in the store’s window, that conveys the history of the building to store customers and visitors to Donaldsonville.  The public is invited to the event.

The poster, created and designed by Baton Rouge artist Elizabeth Randall Neely, is a double-faced exhibit including an historic photograph of the Bikur Cholim exterior from the 1930s as well as a drawing of what the interior of the synagogue looked like.  

Today, the original building is still visible behind the 1950s commercial store front and a few architectural elements of the interior remain hidden within the store.

Ace Hardware is owned by Mark Gautreau of Donaldsonville who graciously agreed to the creation of this display to spotlight the history of his building.   Congregation B’Nai Israel is the sponsor of the project, in honor of the former Jewish community of Donaldsonville.