Adas Israel Synagogue is a starkly simple religious structure, reminiscent more of an eighteenth-century Quaker meeting house than of many elaborate late nineteenth-century urban synagogues. The building features an elongated second story where the women's gallery was located. Wood sunburst designs and round brick lintels above the narrow windows and main entrance are the sole ornaments on the spartan red brick facade.
Originally constructed at 6th and G streets NW, the Adas Israel Synagogue was located in what was then the center of the Jewish settlement in the capital city. By 1907, however, the congregation moved to a more commodious building at 6th and I streets NW. The old building was turned over to a Greek Orthodox church, later to an evangelical congregation, and by the mid-1940s to a grocery. Plans for the transit system (Metro) headquarters structure on this block prompted citizens to have the city lease a new site at 3rd and G streets to which the synagogue was moved. Adas Israel, on a new foundation, was carefully restored and refurnished to house the Lillian and Albert Small Jewish Museum of Washington and the headquarters of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington.