Vasilios Patsourakos, Esq., will reminisce about a landmark building in the Acre section of Lowell, Massachusetts immediately after a short Annual Meeting of the Lowell Hellenic Heritage Association. The location is at the Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church Hall, Father Sarantos Way, Lowell, Massachusetts. Date is Thursday, May 20, 2004 at 7:00 P.M. Feel free to attend the presentation and participate in a discussion about the unique heritage of this building. We'll add any new information on this page after that meeting and discussion. You can also submit information about the building by email..
MARKET STREET MEMORIES
Vasilios P. Patsourakos and Mahmed Ali
As you drive through the Acre along Market Street just before the Western Canal there is a small, slightly dilapidated white building on the right hand side. The address is commonly known as 497 Market Street. The building has several doorways with addresses running from 491 to 503 Market Street. The structure is vacant now, its roof is sagging and one of its windows is busted but it has a long history of being a center of importance for the Greek community in the city.
The building was erected circa 1860 and is classified as an "early frame/shop tenement." By the early part of the 20th century, the building has become a focal point for not only Greek people in general but the Laconians in particular and, more specifically, those immigrants from the area known as Goergitsi. The area on Market Street that ran from Cummiskey's Alley to the Western Canal was primarily filled with Georgitsi families and businesses. The Georgitsi natives were predominantly Venizelists at that time supporters of republican government in Greece and "progressive" in their thinking. Although a good part of the natives of Georgitsi were strong supporters of King Constantine. These members of the Royalist Party waxed eloquent in support of that monarch in debates in the School of Hard Knocks the Greek Coffee house at that time.
There were also many Hellenic Farmers from Georgitsi with farms on Phineas Street in the Town of Dracut. Recently a new bridge was built over a brook on that Street and it is named the Hellenic Farmer's Bridge in their Honor.
It was Georgitsi leaders, like George Guzelis, who founded and built the Holy Trinity Church.
The building 497 Market Street was the home to many businesses over the years such as the Market which was operated by the Alexakos and Kemos families, the baker shop owned by Nickolas Zaras and the Greek furniture Company run by Nickolas Alexakos. Coffee houses were the mainstay of the building. A coffee house was operated at the street floor of the building by different persons from time to time. Some of these persons were Panagiotes Moshovetis, Micheal Koulikouris, Petros Zemas, Christos Savas, Pantelis Sigalas, John Boutselis and Christos Condos. The building was also the landmark for the Smyrna Confectionery Company operated by the Stefanos Tournas family who specialized in Greek coffee, lookoomi, baklava, pasteli, flogera and different types of nuts.
On the second story of the building was a hall where many groups met over the years. In the early 1920s, the Georgitsi Community formed the Socrates Social Cub which met at 497 Market Street from 1922 to 1924, In September of 1924 the Transfiguration Orthodox church held its first evening school there presided over by the principal, Reverend Panos Constantides. The following year the school moved over to the newly built church building at Clark Street acroos from the North Common.
The hall at 497 Market Street became the meeting place for the AHEPA where they held their meetings on one side and the younger people, the members of the Sons of Pericles played ping pong and checkers and enjoyed recreational activities on the other side. On New Years Eve, AHEPA members played cards and occasionally made friendly wages on the outcome of the games. The floor of the Hall over the years, withstood the stomping of the AHEPA Patrol which was under the direction of Charles Ganellas. This was a Group which excelled in performing extraordinary marching maneuvers while the AHEPA band under the leadership of Peter Tzanetakos played appropriate marching music.
Over the periods, the building at 197 Market Street was the meeting place for many other groups including the Hermes Social Club, the Plato Political Club which was one of the first organizations to include people from all the different parts of Greece that lived in Lowell, the Phocion Civic Club the Daughters of Penelope and their junior affiliate the Maids of Athens, the Sons of Pericles and the Greek American Social Club which was owned and operated by Teddy Lekas who had been one of the first Greek American Boxers in Lowell.
In 1928, the building served as a sort of local Greek Republican headquarters where Spiros Pappadopoulos who was a close associate of Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers, distributed materials for president candidate Herbert Hoover to the Greek Community. During World War II, Atty. George Eliades and other Greek leaders ran the Greek War Relief Fund Headquarters out of the building. And after the World War, 497 Market Street was the first meeting place for the Greek American Legion Post 1 which was organized by the Greek American Veterans returning from the WAR.
There are current plans to demolish the buildings for a new residential development next door. But it would be sad to see this structure disappear from the collective memory of the community and this documentation will help, in a minor way, from allowing the little white building on Market Street not to be truly forgotten.
Copyright © 2004 by
Vasilios Patsourakos and Mehmed Ali. All rights reserved.
Web Site Design Comments.
Copyright © 2001 by Lowell Hellenic Heritage Association. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01 Mar 2010 19:11:02 -0500