THE EARLIEST GREEK IMMIGRANTS who settled in New York City can be traced back in 1824, but their numbers were slight. By the 1850's Greeks involved in both the tobacco and cotton exchanges settled here, some coming by way of England.
The first Greek Orthodox Church in America began when a Greek Orthodox priest was sent to New Orleans from Greece, in 1875. During this time the Greek population in New York City was also growing. By 1901 a Greek language newspaper was established in New York to serve a sizable community. In a 1903 article, the chief editor of "Atlantis" estimated that there were approximately 80,000 Greeks in America. New York, as the main port of entry, probably held the lion's share.
In 1891 an organization was established in New York City calling itself "Athena Society." Its 1,000 or so members dedicated themselves to helping Greek newcomers to adapt to life in the United States. Its founder Solon Vlastos, an established businessman was also the founder of the Greek newspaper "Atlantis." It was the Athena Society which petitioned the Ecumenical Patriarchate to send a priest to the community which eventually became known as Evangelismos. The Patriarchate responded by sending Archimandrite Kallinikos Dilbey, an erudite and well spoken graduate of Halki Theological School. Fr. Dilbey, from Pontos, had already served the Greek community in Marseilles, France. He arrived in late 1892 and began holding services at the most convenient location (in relation to where the bulk of the Greek immigrants then lived) - Washington Square. The Judson Memorial Baptist Church, then at West 4th Street, between Sullivan and Thompson streets, was made available to our community by pastor Edward Judson, a known philhellene. The Church which still stands at that location, has since been declared a national landmark. Due to spatial limitations the community was forced to seek larger accommodations and by 1894 was operating out of the Asbury Methodist Church on the corner of 5th Street and East Washington Square (today known as Washington Place). The new building was able to hold a larger group, as at one Easter service over 700 parishioners attended. However, our stay at this new home was abruptly terminated by demolition of the church, in order to make room for the expanding facilities of New York University (Press Building).
Read about our parish council next.