History of Our Parish - Building the Hellenic Center 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

At this time there was a very large segment of land between South Grand Avenue and Park Avenue that had been used for veterans’ housing, which was vacant and on the real estate market. Most of it had been purchased by the Jewish Community in hope of building new synagogues and centers. The church board was looking to purchase some of this land and they obtained some parcels. Mr. Anthony Kalliche and Mr. Maroulis’ widow owned a sizeable portion of this area. They knew of the community’s desire to build a new Center and a new Church. The church board completed transactions with the Kalliche and Maroulis families for this additional property. Then in 1955 Mr. Anthony Kalliche and Mrs. Louis Maroulis and family donated the deeds for the land to the Church Community for a Hellenic Center and a Church.

Daughters of Penelope (Started 1951)Order of AHEPA (1952)

At a 1957 general meeting of the community a heated discussion ensued as to what should be built first, a Center or a Church. Both sides presented their arguments. Some said the Center would supply funds to help build a new Church from its operations. The opposite group said that the Church, being built first, would give the enthusiasm for a future Center. They said the Founders felt that a Church should be first and a Center next. The votes were taken. The community would build a Hellenic center first and then a church. A small committee was then organized to investigate the feasibility of erecting a Center.

The Church board enlarged the committee to include more members from the community. They formulated plans for raising funds and soon obtained the services of Cook & Co., a local architectural firm to draw up plans. The Building Fund Committee members went out into the community, making house and business calls, soliciting and collecting pledges for the building fund. Each month the committee mailed out progress reports. Other groups undertook fund raising events such as a buffet dinner-dance, hosted by HBH and the Annual picnic of Philoptochos.

The enthusiasm continued as illustrated by the Kalliche family who donated a new automobile to be raffled off for the Center in September 1958. In that same year, the Choir went out Caroling to raise money for the cornerstone, a New Year’s Party was held at the Church Hall, HBH held a Spring Fashion Show and the Church held a picnic as a fundraiser. The Choir went out Caroling again, during the 1959 holidays.

His Eminence Archbishop Michael during his visitation to Kimisis on the 30th Anniversary of the church on Academy Street.  With His Eminence are Reverend Agathangelos Petropoulos, first pastor of the church (left of Archbishop) to the right of the Archbishop are Reverent Neophitos (archdeacon). Reverent Athanasios Chamberas, pastor of the church, and Stephen J. Verven, president of the board of Trustees.35th Anniversary of the Church in Poughkeepsie.  The original surviving members (1959).

Finally, in the spring of 1960 a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site of the Center. Original Founding members present were Peter Chamberas Sr., Steve Pappas and John Theodoropoulos. Church Board President William G. Kustas and Rev. Athanasios Chamberas officiated the ceremony. There were many local and civic dignitaries present. The Center was rapidly completed. It had a lounge, an office, a large 300-seat capacity hall, a second floor meeting room and a complete kitchen. Finally the Hellenic Center had its first affair with a Gala New Years Eve Party in 1961. It was very beautifully and professionally decorated by Mr. Peter Aposporos who was our own well-known painter and artist. It was a memorable evening of dining, dance and music.

We should note that, during February 1961, the Church served as a host for the famous “Weeping Icon” from Hempstead, NY. Over 1000 people came from the entire Poughkeepsie community to pray at the Church during that week.

1960 Ground Breaking Ceremony at South Grand Avenue for the Hellenic CenterHellenic Center (1961)

The Center soon lived up to its expectations. The building fund committee now became the Hellenic Center Committee. It hosted the Kimisis Church events. The Committee made sure that it was soon rented to benefit the Church and pay for the balance of the Center building costs. The greater Poughkeepsie community adopted the Center. It served the region’s social, political and charitable activities on a regular basis. It thus became the social center of the Poughkeepsie area. The HBH Sorority, Philoptochos, the Ahepans and the Greek Language School all held their meetings there on a regular basis. The General meetings of the Church were also held there as well. Now there was hope that with this new enthusiasm the Center would spark the inspiration of soon having a new Church erected near the Center. At various events held at the Center, the senior ladies of Philoptochos served as “coat checking girls” during late evening hours, raising sizeable amounts of funds for the Church.

It should be noted that for over 35 years many of our parishioners traveled to Kimisis for their Church services from the Kingston, NY area. During the late ‘50s their numbers increased. They now wished to have their own Church in Kingston. Under the leadership of the Larios family they organized a new community, raised funds, and built a church named St. George in the 1960s. Thus, Kimisis now had a new sister church community.

Caryatids Float at a Poughkeepsie Parade in 1963.  Those present from left to right are Marion Pechewlys, Karen Drivas, Olga Chamberas, Esther Pericles, and Zoe Dourdis1968 Parish Council

1962 was another landmark for the community. The Poughkeepsie Ahepa Chapter celebrated its 35th Anniversary by hosting the New York State Ahepa Convention at the Hellenic Center and neighboring hotels. The Poughkeepsie Chapter of the Daughters of Penelope served as co-hosts as they had done in 1949. It was a memorable event. All present wished that since the community had a fine Center, it should one day soon have a beautiful new Church.