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New Haven Register, Sunday, April 13, 1930

Greeks Make Worthwhile Contribution to City's Life

Community Is Young, But Has Achieved Prominence in Some Fields

Greece, land of ancient Hellas, is the motherland of more than 1,000 New Haven residents, many of whom have contributed much to the business life of the city, and who besides participating in a number of fields of endeavor, excel in at least one, that of restaurant operation.

Beyond all question, the modern Greeks lead all other nationality groups in the realm of eating-houses and sweets emporiums. Dozens of restaurants in the Elm City are owned and operated by them. Some of these are classed among the leading establishments of their kind in the city and together they furnish employment for a majority of the male members of their race.


Some indication of the important place held by the Greek Community in this city was seen. Thursday night when the New Haven Chapter 98, Order of the Ahepa, a Greek-American organization, held a banquet in the Taft ballroom with scores of prominent Hellenes attending. Men of note in the public life of both city and State were present.

The banquet was held to commemorate the centenary of Hellenic Independence, an anniversary of an event, which to all persons of Hellenic lineage means perhaps even more than the achievement of national independence does to many American born. Deliverance from cruel despotism was a victory for not only political independence but for religious and individual liberty.

For nearly four centuries the land of ancient Hellas groaned under political and religious servitude. When in 1921 the struggle for independence began, their cause seemed hopeless. After maintaining, single-handed, the contest for several years, other European nations including France, Great Britain and Russia intervened and it is the centenary of renewed nationally existence that people of the Hellenic race are now observing.

It is a significant fact that leading American statesmen of that period, 100 years ago, including both Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, were in thorough sympathy (as shown by orations in the Senate of the United States regarding the heroic struggle of the Hellenes to regain their ancient political and religious autonomy.)


The New Haven Greek community is of comparatively recent origin. The first of the pioneers arrived here only about 40 years ago when, as the 19th century neared its close, they felt the lure of the New World, and a few of the number who migrated to America found their way to the Elm City. Probably one of the first of the Greeks to arrive here was Christie J. Heris who operates paint store in Congress Avenue. He is looked upon as the first of the Creeks to settle in New Haven, and in the 40 years that he has lived here he has become well liked and favorably known and has won a good measure of success in his business.

A few of the Greeks who settled in New Haven entered the fruit and confectionery business, but the enterprise in which the Hellenes have had the most success is the restaurant. For some reason, the Greek restaurant has proved very popular almost wherever and whenever established. These restaurants have grown in number and in size and naturally this increase has attracted more and more Greeks to New Haven, either to start new eating-houses or to secure work in those already established.

The Greeks are a peaceable and law abiding people and are proud of their history, which goes back to the very dawn of civilization. Of a devout and religious nature, the Greeks, soon after their arrival in New Haven, established their religious center in which they might carry on the worship of God in the manner to which they had long been accustomed.


In the earlier days of the Greek community here, the Greeks worshipped on every other Sunday in the little Syrian Orthodox Catholic Church of St. George at 17 Kossuth Street, sharing the edifice with the Syrian Catholics. Later on, however, as the community grew in size, larger space became necessary and a committee was named to find larger church quarters. About that time, the Advent Christian denomination had secured larger quarters at Shelton Avenue and Division Street, and its old home on Beers Street, near Elm, was available. This church building was purchased from the Adventists in 1924 and rededicated St. Barbara. The first services were held in the new church on Easter Sunday (Orthodox calendar) in 1924.

The parish grew under the guidance of Father John Aslanides, who remained here until about six months ago, when he went to a church in Rhode Island. The present rector of the church is Rev. E. G. Triantafyllides. A Sunday school is conducted each Sunday morning for the young people.

One of the leading organizations of the church is the Ladies' Progressive Society of which Mrs. Christie G. Heris is president. This organization carries on welfare and charitable work among Greek families and also supervises the church school and takes care of other important activities. A notable occurrence in the recent history of the Greek Orthodox Church here was the visit in February of Bishop Ioakim, whose headquarters are in Boston and who is head of the Greek Orthodox Churches in this district. At that time the Bishop came here to officiate at the Feast of the Purification and between 700 and 800 Greeks crowded the church on that special occasion.


The leading Greek organization is the Ahepa, an exclusively Greek-American organization whose full name is the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association. Units of the society have been established throughout the country in communities where there are sizeable Greek populations. Its membership here totals nearly 150. Stratis Andris is president; James Carson, vice president, Harry Ambelides, secretary, and John Morris, treasurer. The organization's banquet last week was one of the largest affairs of its kind ever to take place in the history of New Haven's Greek community, observing with appropriate ceremonies the centenary of independence as it was observed in hundreds of other cities. It was an occasion for essay contests on ancient, Byzantine and modern Greece, displays of Greek literature and exhibits of art in libraries.

The half million citizens of Hellenic descent in the United Stares have become effective carriers of American culture, and have watched with delight as post-war Greece has solicited and received American assistance in the settlement of her grave national problems. American enterprise, philanthropic, educational and economic, is finding an ever-widening field of activity in the land of Plate and Aristide.

As previously stated, Christie G. Heris, paint dealer of Congress Avenue, was one of the first of the Greeks, at least of the present group, to arrive in New Haven. The honor for second place goes by general agreement to Tom Bouzoukas, who maintains a large fruit and confectionery store on Dixwell Avenue at the corner of Webster Street.

The Greeks have prospered in the city of their adoption and considering their small numbers have reached important places in business life. The professions have not been neglected, as one of the city's well-known physicians, Dr. John Yavis, is one of their number.


Four of the larger restaurants in the center of the city, along Church and Chapel Streets, are owned and operated by Greeks. The Presto is one of these; its owner is Frank Pandajis, one of the best known Greek-Americans in New Haven. Carson's Restaurant on Church Street is another; its proprietors are the three Carson brothers, Peter, Nicholas and James Carson. Chili's Restaurant on Church Street is still another popular Greek eating-house and its proprietor is Aris Chilis. The State Restaurant on upper Chapel Street is operated by Harry P. Chamos.

In addition to these large central restaurants there are a number of smaller eating houses maintained by Greeks. William Chaltas operates two of these; Peri Coflas is another of the well-known small restaurant owners. The Traffic Lunch and Restaurant on Meadow Street near South Orange is operated by George Boulas.

The Cummings brothers on State Street have long been in the confectionery and ice cream business, and before occupying their present location were established for a number of years on Chapel Street between Orange and State Streets. Alex Kegeles has a candy establishment on State Street, and another well-known Greek candy merchant is John Jinetopulos, on Edgewood Avenue.

Vosles Moscoupolis, of the Crestena Importing Company, grocers at Congress and Washington Avenues, is now on a visit to his native land, but will soon return to resume his duties here. Alex Efrimes, is a prosperous retail grocers at Chapel and Day Streets.


The nationality census in the New Haven public schools shows a total of 256 children of Greek parentage attending the grammar and high schools. They are well scattered throughout the city. At the New Haven High School there are 12 Greek children and seven at Commercial High.

The approximate distribution of families is shown in the Greek children in the other schools of New Haven, which follow: Fair Haven Junior High, two; Sheridan Junior High, two; Troup Junior High, ten, Baldwin School, three; Barnard School, four; Cedar Street School, twenty-eight; Columbus School, three; Davenport School, one; Davis Street School, six; Dwight School, nineteen, Eaton School, one; Edgewood Avenue School, two; Edwards Street School, four; Ferry Street School, three; Greenwich Avenue School, one, Nathan Hale School, three; Hallock Street School, seven; Hamilton School, two, Humphrey Street School, three; Kimberly Avenue School, four; Lincoln School, one; Lloyd Street School, three, Morris Cove School, two, Orange Street School, two, Orchard Street School, two; Prince Street School, thirty-eight; Quinnipiac Avenue School, four; Scranton School, two; Skinner School, seven; Strong School, four; Truman Street School, four; Washington School, five; Webster School, twenty; Welch School, six; West Street School, one; Winchester School, ten; Zunder School, sixteen.

Rev. Father Peter J. Orfanakos, Parish Priest
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