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Lowell, Massachusetts Will be First US City to Honor Greek Bicentennial

Greek Bicentennial
City Hall in Lowell, Massachusetts. Visible in the foreground is a raised island containing monuments to the city’s early Greek immigrants, Cardinal O’Connell, and the city’s Irish-American Community. Credit: Emw /Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 3.0

The venerable New England city of Lowell, Massachusetts, once home to so many Greek immigrants that it was dubbed “America’s Acropolis,” will be the first US city to honor Greece on its bicentennial of the War of Independence on March 25.

Celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation at 7:30 AM, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church will commemorate the seminal day in the life of Modern Greece on the day of the Bicentennial.

Raising the Greek flag in the early morning all around town, the Greek Bicentennial will continue to be commemorated all day long, with a procession after the early morning Liturgy and a ceremony held at 12 noon at Lowell City Hall.

An extensive lighting program has also been designed for City Hall and the city’s iconic bridges, with all the landmarks glowing in the white and blue on Thursday night.

Holy Trinity will celebrate the Greek bicentennial on Thursday
Credit: Facebook/Holy Trinity Church

As Greece’s Consul General to Boston Stratos Efthymiou says, Lowell, the old New England mill town that has reinvented itself in recent years, was a historic gateway for Greek immigration to America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“Lowell’s textile mills employed thousands of Greeks, and the city produced historical figures of American Hellenism such as politicians Michael Dukakis, Paul Tsongas, and the philanthropist George Behrakis,” he notes.

“Acropolis of America” will celebrate gala Greek Bicentennial

“The town of Lowell was named by the Patriarch Athenagoras as the Acropolis of America and was a mirror of Greek society.

Holy Trinity Lowell will celebrate Greek bicentennial
Holy Trinity in Lowell, the first Byzantine Greek church in the United States, will celebrate the Greek bicentennial in the morning of March 25. Credit: Facebook/Holy Trinity Church”

He also explains that “this community was called by Archbishop Athenagoras, who later became Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, “the Acropolis of America’s Hellenism.”

Much like all the other immigrants to New England, the Greeks of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century were adamant that the first building that they constructed for their own use must be a church.

More than 35,000 Greek immigrants in city in 1925

By giving what nickels and dimes they had left over from their meager incomes as they titled in the great mills of the city, they established all the city’s Greek Orthodox churches and the Greek Schools that would instruct the next generations in the Greek language.

Foremost among all the city’s Greek Orthodox churches is Holy Trinity, the very first Byzantine Greek church to celebrate Greek Orthodox worship in the United States.

There were fewer than ten Greek immigrants in Lowell in 1880 — but by 1925 there were more than 35,000 — the vast majority of them working in the gigantic textile mills of the city, owned by the scions of the Lowell family.

These thousands of Hellenic immigrants represented the third-largest Greek immigrant population in the United States after only the great metropolises of New York and Chicago.

Efthymiou stated that the story of Lowell is in many ways the story of two nations.”The story of the Greeks, a nation of emigrants and refugees, caught between wars and economic crises, and the story of the Americans, a nation of immigrants who came here to achieve their own American Dream of success and upward mobility in a society of equal opportunity for all.

“And the Greeks of Lowell indeed achieved their American dream, gaining their special place in the beautiful American mosaic not by chance but through sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work.”

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