History of Jewish Construction and Architectural Activity in Thessaloniki

Jewish-owned commercial use buildings accommodating stores, offices and workshops (1922-1930)

The “History of Jewish Construction and Architectural Activity in Thessaloniki” is a project implemented by the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki. The project includes an exhibition of archival material, applications for smartphones (iOS and Android) and a dedicated website. The project explores the conditions in Thessaloniki’s commercial center following the redevelopment and redistribution of land that took place in the 1920s, which resulted in the destruction of the traditional urban fabric of Jewish residential districts that had coexisted with commercial activities for centuries.

old building

The redistribution of land and the new urban plan that followed the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 forced the vast majority of Jewish families to relocate to the eastern parts of Thessaloniki. For those left homeless by the fire, the Jewish Community and the Municipality of Thessaloniki built workers quarters. Dozens of commercial buildings (accommodating stores, offices and workshops) were built on the new plots in central Thessaloniki. Many of the buildings had Jewish proprietors and it is those buildings that the project presents.

The exhibition, digital apps and website cover a total of 125 buildings, all of which were built by Jewish owners during the reconstruction of Thessaloniki in the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1917. The buildings were intended strictly for commercial use and did not accommodate any residences. They were located in various streets in downtown Thessaloniki, including Venizelou, Ionos Dragoumi, Egnatia, Frangon, Vasileos Irakleiou, Ptolemaion, Dodekanisou, Leontos Sofou and Valaoritou.

old building

The digital apps provide the following information about each building: the names of the proprietors who issued the building permits; the names of the architects and engineers; an architectural description of the building; a copy of the original architectural plan; and a photograph of the current structure on each plot, whether this is the original or a later construction. The accompanying texts are presented in Greek and English and are complemented by an audio guide in both languages.

Plot numbering follows the current urban plan (the first and second number refer to the block and plot respectively).

The research revealed a significant number of architects and engineers, several of whom were Christians. It also revealed the substantial number of Jews who had invested in real estate and attempted to develop buildings intended for commercial use. By cross-referencing research results with other data, we can conclude that many plots were eventually resold.