The first Jews began to settle in Charleston soon after 1670, attracted by the civil and religious freedom of South Carolina and its economic opportunities. A large and handsome synagogue built in 1794 was destroyed by fire in 1838. The present synagogue, built in 1840, is considered one of country's finest examples of Greek Revival architecture. It is the second oldest synagogue in country, oldest in continuous use, oldest surviving Reform synagogue in the world, a national historical landmark of the U.S. Birthplace of American Reform Judaism in 1824.