While officially incorporated by the State of New York on June 25, 1931 under the name “Washington Heights Hellenic Orthodox Church, Inc.,” Greek Orthodox faithfaully residing in upper Manhattan had attempted some years earlier to organize a parish. Services were held in various locations by a Rev. Kanellos Kanellopoulos and the Church was know as Pantanassa – the Virgin Mary. It was not until the assignment of the Very Reverend Archimandrite Vaselios Lokis in 1931 that the church was organized and named Saint Spyridon. The certificate of incorporation was signed by Nicholas Botsakis, Otto D. Prounis, Marcos Yampanis, George Papaeleas, Evangelos A. Negris and Socrates Angelson.
The faitfhul congregated at first in a small hall above a theater located on St., Nicholas Avenue at 185th Street. Later, they met in a room above a garage on 183rd Street east of Broadway. Holy Rood Episcopalian Church on 179th Street and Ft. Washington Avenue, made available an auditorium for use of our parish.
During a general assembly meeting in September, 1934, Anthony J. Miller was elected chairman of a real estate committee and charged with the responsibility of acquiring a permanent location for the community. Within weeks, they succeeded in securing a building available on our present property. Originally constructed in 1928 as a Baptist Church, it was subsequently sold and used as a Masonic Temple. The terms of the transaction called for the renting of the building for a period of three years, with an option to buy at a cost of $50,000. In graceful recognition of his leadership, Mr. Miller was unanimously elected president of the community in December, 1934. Others elected to the parish council were Michael Goulandris, George Eliades, Ayisilaso Papachristou, John Staikos, Pierre Psillas and Jason Chios.
The first divine liturgy was celebrated by Archimandrite Lokis in January, 1935 and the church was consecrated in March of the same year by Archbishop Athenagoras (later to become Patriarch of Constantinople). During the services, Mr. Paul Coufos had the distinction of serving as Godfather of the community. In 1936, Rev. Lokis was named Dean of the Annunciation Cathedral in San Francisco. The Rev. Archimandrite Chrysostomos Papalambrou (later titular Bishop of Mirinis) was assigned as pastor. In September of the same year, the purchase of 124 Wadsworth Avenue was finalized. The parish countinued to grow, day by day. By 1937, Saint Spyridon grew to become one of the largest communities of the Archdiocese, supported by 850 members. It was reported at a general assembly meeting in November, 1942, that membership had increased sustantially and that the Sunday School – with 600 students – was the largest in the entire Archdiocese.
During the Great Depression, the Rev. Deacon Theodotiros Kokkinakis (later to become Bishop of Boston and Archbishop of Great Britain) was assigned to the parish. To better understand the financial hardships facing the parish during the depression, Rev. Kokkinakis served as deacon, chantor and secretary of the parish – all for $90 per month!
124 Wadsworth Avenue
New York, NY 10033
Rev. Fr. George Passias – Presiding Priest
Phone: (212) 795-5870
Fax: (212) 795-4758