Until 1912, there had been in Trieste four synagogues: the Scola Piccola, of German rite, inaugurated in 1746 in a building at the entrance of the Ghetto; the Scola Grande, also of German rite, and the Scola Spagnola, of Sephardic rite, both opened at the end of the 18th century on different floors of a new building designed by the architect Francesco Balzano. The fourth one, the so-called Scola Vivante (after the family of merchants) was opened in early 19th century outside of the Ghetto in a building at the beginning of via del Monte. It was demolished after the First World War to make room for the new Jewish School and a residential building.
View of the Ghetto of Trieste
Photograph of via delle Beccherie in the Ghetto of Trieste
Map of via delle Beccherie (in red the Scola Piccola, in green Palazzo Balzano, in blue Scola Vivante - click on image to enlarge)
At the end of 1911, just before the new temple was opened, the Jewish community tried to sell the Balzano palace to the City of Trieste with the condition that the building would be demolished but its interior elements and furnishings (fountains, columns, altars, inscriptions) left to the community. The offer was apparently not accepted.
It was not until 1934 that Palazzo Balzano was sold, and it was soon demolished as a part of the massive urban development plan promoted the City of Trieste was carrying out in the area. A detailed description of the palace and its content is offered in a 23 October 1934 document entitled Verbale di Consistenza by the Public Works Deparment of the City of Trieste. At the beginning of November 1934, Mario Hirsch, owner of a firm specialised in marble and stone working, estimated the expenses for disassembling the palace decorations and furniture including its Torah arks, Carrara marble columns, railings and wooden pulpits. The two Torah arks were washed, for liturgical reasons, and temporarily stored at the Trieste Jewish cemetery together with other disassembled materials in late November 1934.
Estimate by Mario Hirsch for the work of dismantling Trieste's two old synagogues, 8 November 1934