Enter your Email to subscribe.


Commemorating its 60th Anniversary

A Brief History of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church

By William G. Poulos

The Early Years

By 1957 the newly consecrated church had a new priest, Rev. Fr. Nicholas T. Stavrakis. Through his efforts and that of the Parish Council, the Greek and Sunday Schools, the Philoptochos Society, the PTA, the Junior and Senior GOYA programs, the JOY program, and the entire St. Nicholas Community continued to grow and to thrive. At the time of the Parish's fifth anniversary, the community had expanded to five hundred members, the Greek School had one hundred twenty five pupils, and the Sunday school had grown to two hundred and fifty pupils. Especially notable during his tenure, the Sunday School Program was cited by the Archdiocese as the best on the East Coast.

A top priority for both Father Stavrakis and the entire St. Nicholas community at the time was the liquidation of the Parish's debt. Remarkably, just six years after the church's groundbreaking ceremony, the community celebrated the burning of its mortgage.

Even as the mortgage was being burned it was apparent that the continuing influx of Greek immigrants into Highlandtown would require additions to the existing church and office buildings. The church basement which served as social hail, auditorium, meeting room and classroom was entirely too small.

Particularly acute was the need for adequate classrooms and recreational facilities for the community's youth. Consequently, the task of raising funds to build the needed additions to the Church began during the period of Fr. Stavrakis' service to St. Nicholas. This monumental effort which took many forms - dances, picnics, bake sales, carnivals, raffles, pledges etc. - would continue for well over a decade until the project was completed and fully paid for by the community.

In 1963, Father Stavrakis was reassigned to another parish, and the spiritual leadership of St. Nicholas for the next eight years was passed to Holy Cross graduate Rev. Fr. Peter C. Chrisafideis.

Fr. Chrisafideis and the Parish Council under the administration of President Stefanos Yianakis were instrumental in beginning a special building fund to finance the construction of the much needed school building. The persistent and tireless furidraising 'activities of the entire St. Nicholas community were rewarded on April 12, 1970, when; the groundbreaking ceremonies for the school building were conducted.

The exterior of the school building was completed in only a few months. However, the interior of the building remained incomplete, and the outstanding debt for its construction was $310,000. The challenge to complete and pay for the school building would shape and define much of the next five years of the parish's history.

During the early 1970's, the St. Nicholas community focused not only inwardly on its own special problems and issues but it also looked outward and actively participated in the revival of civic and social life that was taking place in Baltimore City. Reflecting on the commitment to the city's renaissance, St. Nicholas Church participated in Baltimore City's first City Fair in September 1970, and its involvement as one of the first Ethnic groups to participate in the Inner Harbor Ethnic Festivals held in 1971.