Greek Orthodox Church marks 90th year in county
|A photographer captures the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church on film after the building was completed in 1916. Construction on the project started in February and, in May 1916, Father Petrakis was assigned to the church. The building in Price was dedicated on Aug. 15, 1916.|
Ninety years ago, Greek immigrant men and boys constructed a church in Carbon County.
Since then, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church at 61 S. 200 East, Price, has stood as a testament to the hard work of the immigrants and their descendants.
Parishioners will commemorate the church's 90th anniversary for three days.
The three-day event will begin Nov. 17 at a social in the church's basement at 7 p.m.
The celebration is open to the public, but admission fees will be charged for people attending some of the events
Residents interested in attending should contact Stacy Himonas at 637-5196 for details.
Himonas and Billy Sampinos-White are co-chairing the 90th anniversary celebration.
Himonas and Sampinos-White said the milestone signifies the integrity of the congregation's ancestors to keep intact the religion and traditions so they can be passed to future generations.
Parish council president Roy Nikas indicated that any profits from the celebration will go toward a building project to make the church more accessible to people with limited mobility.
Friday's social will be hosted by the church's Philoptochos Ladies organization. Light refreshments will be served.
On Saturday, vesper services are scheduled at the church at 4:30 p.m.
A dinner at Price Elks Lodge will follow.
Hors d'oeuvres will be served at 6 p.m.
A welcome address and introduction will be delivered during dinner at 8 p.m.
Dancing to the music of the Grecian Keys will conclude Saturday night's activities.
On Sunday, the orthros and divine liturgy will be conducted at the church at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. respectively. Brunch in the church basement will follow.
Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, Colo., and Rev. Archimandrite Athanasios Emmert will officiate at the services along with guest clergy, Rev. Michael Kouremetis and Rev. Makarios Manos of Salt Lake City.
The top Greek Orthodox leaders in the United States have sent letters of congratulations to the Price church on its anniversary.
Metropolitan Isaiah said the immigrants who built the church looked forward to the promise of America where they could not only establish themselves, but from which they would also be able to earn money to send to assist families in Greece.
Although many immigrants could not fulfill their goals because they died in workplace accidents, he said "their blood watered the ground and helped the growth of the parish, along with the hands of many others who fulfilled many happy dreams."
In 1972, the Assumption church was named to the Utah Register of Historic Sites. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites the next year.
The church's Byzantine architecture makes the building one of the visual symbols of Carbon County's unique legacy.
State historian Allen Powell has called Carbon County a land of three heritages - Mormons, immigrants and miners.
The number of immigrants from a wide variety of countries has also prompted state historians to dub Carbon County "The Ellis Island of Utah."
After the Winter Quarters disaster near Scofield on May 1, 1900 killed 200 underground workers- many of whom were Scandinavia and British Isles immigrants - coal mines turned the companies' sights toward European countries like Yugoslavia, Italy and Greece to fill increasing labor needs.
Church records show the first three Greek immigrant men in Carbon County arrived in 1903 to work in the Castle Gate mine near Helper. Plans to build a Greek Orthodox Church started in 1912 after more Greek men arrived to take mine and railroad jobs.
There were only about a half dozen Greek women in Carbon County at the time. The first to come to Carbon County was Mrs. John Diamanti, according to church records.
Greeks in nearby Helper agreed to constructing a church provided it would be built in their town.
For some time, church services were conducted in Helper in the rear of a coffee house owned by Stellios and George Lenderakis. There is no record of the priest's name who officiated.
In 1914, a committee led by John G. Diamanti, one of the first three Greeks to arrive in Carbon County, convinced the immigrants in Helper that the church should be built in Price .
The first formal meeting to establish what would be then known as the Greek Orthodox Church of Southern Utah was conducted in 1915.
In December 1915, fund raising and a search for an architect began and planners also agreed to petition the Holy Synod of Greece to assign to the church Rev. Mark Petrakis, who was married.
Church records show construction began in February 1916, on land purchased for $800. The lowest construction bid was $11,336. The furnace cost another $968.
In May 1916, Father Petrakis was assigned to the church. The building was dedicated on Aug. 15, when the Greek Church celebrated the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary. Hence, the church was named the "Assumption".
Talk of remodeling the church was scuttled once during the Great Depression when raising funding was impossible.
It wasn't until April 1940 that a building committee was formed to raise money to enlarge the church. The work occurred in 1941.
In spring 1945, a fire caused considerable smoke damage, necessitating a general renovation of the interior.
The 1960s brought the most extensive remodeling of the Assumption church.
The church was enlarged and the recreation and the kitchen were remodeled. A new Sunday School building was erected in 1962 east of the church.
Since 1975, the church has conducted Greek Festival Days in Price in July, The event ties the church's fundraising into promoting better understanding in the community of the Greek Orthodox culture.