History of Our Parish PDF Print
History of Our Parish
Celebrating the First Divine Liturgy
Building the First Church
Growth In The Church Community
World War II Involvement and Post War Growth
Building the Hellenic Center
Building the Present Church on South Grande Avenue
Growth in the New Church, Tragedy, and Recovery
The 80s and 90s
Conclusion
List of Chanters, Choir Director, Organists, and Sunday School Directors
List of Parish Council Presidents
List of Parish Priests
Closing Remarks
All Pages

NOTE: The following is a narrative of our Community's History as written by Zinas Mavodones, a life long member of our community. This history was written in 2007 to commemorate our Church's Consecration which took place in the same year. We hope you enjoy our story and the historical pictures that are included within it. God Bless You All.

With this history we are celebrating the Consecration of our Church on Grand Avenue in Poughkeepsie, New York and the 84th year of the founding of the Kimisis Tis Theotokou Community. Our church is unique for us as parishioners, as it is intertwined with our lives. Although it was organized in 1923, it just did not spring into existence but had its beginnings amongst individuals who came here to Poughkeepsie in the early 1900’s.

They came here from Greece, crossing the Atlantic Ocean to a new country. They were very young, did not know the language, and did not have any special business skills. They all were ambitious and independent of mind.

As youths and young men they were able to learn the language and the new business skills to earn their living. After working for others, they stepped out on their own and soon established their small and moderate commercial businesses.

The earliest ones came here to Poughkeepsie in the early 1900’s. The first on record was Vasilios Mentavlos, who obtained a horse and wagon and became a familiar fruit merchant. The Vassilliw brothers established a fruit, ice cream, and candy shop. Then in 1903, brothers George and Stephen Antonakos arrived and soon established the Boston Candy Kitchen in partnership with Artemis Papastrat.

Just prior to World War I more Greeks found their way to the Mid-Hudson area and Poughkeepsie. These newcomers soon met their native Greek countrymen living and working in Peekskill, Beacon, Newburgh, Kingston and Saugerties. The largest numbers were in the Poughkeepsie and Newburgh areas. As an example, the late John Christakos came here in 1916 as a 15-year-old youth. Another example was Stelios Frangk who was young enough to serve in the U.S. Army during World War I.

Main Street During World War I

Today we refer to them as Greeks, but they referred to themselves as Hellenes (Ελληνες), sons of Hellas, which is the Greek name of Greece. They would meet other countrymen in the region socially as well as in business. The one mainstay that they all had and kept during these early years was their religious heritage and faith. When they crossed the ocean they came with their few belongings but always with a religious Icon from their home, not only as a keepsake, but also as a firm reminder that prayer and faith were also required as they set out on a new adventure in life. They would undoubtedly meet socially to celebrate the religious holidays as well as they could, in their small homes. If they wished to attend church services it meant a long trip to either Yonkers or New York City during the years of 1911 to 1920. Many of those early parishioners had their marriage and baptismal sacraments celebrated in those two cities.

During those years, by the late 1920’s, there were more businesses operated by Greeks. These were familiar names in those days but today not too many recall them. It is worthwhile to remember them because later on they were the financial strength that allowed them to form a Church Community. They were: Matsukas Market; Gianoudas Market; Giannoulas Market; Chaganos Market; Mentavlos Fruits; Vasilios Maroulis Market; Antonakos & Papastrat’s Boston Candy Kitchen; Vassilliw Ice Cream & Candy; Biltmore Restaurant (Steve Pappas & George Verven); Papastrat Commercial Ice Cream Store; Court Café, now called Alex’s (Alex Pappas); Texas Lunch (Tom Pappas); Kustas & Chamberas, wholesalers of confections and tobacco products (Louis G. Kustas, George Kustas Sr., Peter Chamberas Sr.). It was during 1917 that the Greek businessmen saw the value of meeting and sharing information and experiences in their commercial enterprises. They formed the Greek Business Mens’ Club that met in downtown Poughkeepsie, first on Main St. and later on Garden St. There they discussed not only their business concerns but also their social and religious concerns. Their Secretary was George Antonakos. This group continued until 1926. Thus the Greeks were now a commercial presence in Poughkeepsie. There were also other firms in the other cities and towns in the area, namely restaurants, fruit markets, and candy manufacturers. One can recall an example in Beacon, the Alps Candy Store, of the Charkalis brothers. The Alps Candy Stores are still in operation today.

The Greeks of the community kept their religious traditions centered in their homes, since they did not have a local Church. In addition to the major religious holidays, there were also saints’ name days and anniversaries that were celebrated. Greeks were often named after a family relative, which was very often the name of a saint. Now with the increase of Greek families, they saw the need to rent a hall to accommodate their religious celebrations.