Parish History
A chronology of events taken from St. Nicholas Church records:

THE BEGINNINGS

  • 1904: A group of prominent St. Louis Hellenes organized Hagia Trias (Holy Trinity) as a Greek Church-Community.

  • 1906: Rev. Panageotis Phiambolis was assigned as pastor of Holy Trinity Church. He was the first permanent Greek Orthodox priest in St. Louis and he served here until 1918. Shortly after the arrival of Father Phiambolis, a former Protestant church located at 19th and Morgan (now Delmar) Streets was rented for $50 per month.

  • 1910: As a result of disagreements among parishioners, the Church of Evangelismos (Annunciation) was founded. 

  • 1911: Rev. Vassilios Avramopoulos celebrated the first Divine Liturgy at the church, located at 17th and Olive Streets.

 
SAINT NICHOLAS CHURCH - A NEW START

  • Palm Sunday, 1917: A general meeting was held, where factions came together and voted to organize a new church community, later named St. Nicholas. A temporary committee of 16 was elected to obtain the services of a Greek Orthodox priest.

  • September 29, 1917: The Rev. Constantine Liakopoulos arrived in St. Louis to assume his pastoral duties at St. Nicholas. At the time, there was no central ecclesiastical authority, so the committee sought a prospective parish priest by letter. The propriety of this action was in question since it did not have the approval of the Holy Synod of Greece. The matter was later resolved.

  • Sunday, September 30, 1917: Father Liakopoulos performed his first Sacrament at St. Nicholas - the marriage of Kalliopi, the daughter of Naoum Sramatis Karandzas, to John Kiortsy.

  • October 3, 1917: In Druid's Hall at 9th and Market Streets, the new community held a general meeting at which the congregation was officially named "St. Nicholas." Father Liakopoulos was confirmed as Presbyter and temporary chairman of the community.

  • October 14, 1917: At a general assembly held at Henneman Hall, a motion was passed to purchase an existing church and residence at Garrison and St. Louis Avenues.

  • October 21, 1917: St. Nicholas parish celebrated its first Divine Liturgy at Henneman Hall.

  • December 22, 1917: St. Nicholas Church was officially opened with a Hierarchical Liturgy celebrated by His Eminence, Germanos, Archbishop of Antioch, assisted by Father Liakopoulos. The Liturgy was celebrated in Greek and Arabic.

  • Sign of the Times: Discussions at several parish council meetings during this era involved the place of women in the Church: Woman's place, they decided, was in the balcony - unless it was full - in which case they would be permitted to sit on the main floor. A few years later, a new seating arrangement evolved with women sitting to the left of the main aisle and men to the right. By the 1950's, families began to sit together in worship.

  • June 23, 1918: The first parish picnic was held on the feast of Pentecost.  An open-air Divine Liturgy was held, followed by lunch, singing and Greek dancing. The proceeds raised at the picnic were applied to starting a Greek language school, which along with the church Sunday school was opened the following September.

  • December 29, 1919: Father Prousianos left St. Louis and returned to Greece. He was replaced by Father Mark Petrakis, who arrived in St. Louis early in 1920. Father Petrakis introduced chairs for parishioners in the nave. This became a controversial matter as parishioners were accustomed to standing during the entire Liturgy, with a few "stadia" (wall stalls) provided for the elderly.

  • Other 1920 Events:

    • Presbytera Stella Petrakis and a group of parish ladies organized the Greek Ladies Benevolent Society "Elpis."​​

    • The American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (A.H.E.P.A.) was founded in Atlanta in 1922 in response to the harassment of local Greeks by native residents and the Ku Klux Klan. AHEPA’s main goal was to encourage a more rapid assimilation into mainstream American society. 

    • The men of St. Nicholas formed AHEPA Chapter 53 in 1924.

  • January 1922:  St. Nicholas board president Alexander Antonopoulos and Fr. Petrakis publicly announced that the community would be building a new church building in the near future. A rendering was drawn up by the architectural firm of Theodore Link, who designed St. Louis’ Union Station. However, this vision did not come to fruition.

  • A Sign of the Times: Greek National political antagonism continued to be reflected in the operation of Greek Orthodox churches in America. Church recognition of the damaging influences of Greek politics on the religious faithful in America led to the transfer of ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Greek Orthodox churches in America to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople.

  • September 29, 1927: A catastrophic tornado reduced St. Nicholas Church on Garrison and St. Louis Avenues to rubble.

AFTERMATH OF THE TORNADO

Families set out with renewed determination to rebuild their church.

  • December 14, 1927: Parishioners submitted an agreement for approval on rental of a church building located at the southwest corner of Kingshighway and Enright.

  • July 1928: During the tenure of Rev. Dimitrios Vainikos, the question of renting or building a new church persisted. The Enright property had served as a Jewish synagogue and thus was not of traditional Greek design, therefore the parish decided to seek a new location. At the same time, the community decided to sell the St. Louis Avenue property.

  • March 1, 1929: Sites on LindeIl, Kingshighway, West Pine, Forest Park and Laclede were investigated; the location on Forest Park Boulevard was chosen. 

  • February 19, 1930: Chicago Architect Ernest K. Eugene was enlisted to prepare plans for the new church. The plans were approved in October 1930, and the Welch Construction Co. contracted to build the church.

  • January 11, 1931: The St. Nicholas Church corner­stone was laid. It bears the date December 1930 when construction began.

  • Sunday, September 20, 1931: Official opening of the new St. Nicholas Church

 

THE 1940'S THROUGH THE '50S

  • 1942: An adult Bible reading group and a Greek language instruction class for adults were initiated.

  • 1942: St. Nicholas ladies formed Red Cross units for the preparation of surgical bandages, while others served in mobile transport units. Community luncheons were served to visiting servicemen after church services.

  • Dec. 1, 1950: The Tenth Ecclesiastical Congress of Clergy and Laity was held in St. Louis. 

  • May 11, 1952: The St. Nicholas Greek Ladies Philoptochos Society was established.

  • 1954-55 events: A committee was appointed to study the future needs of St. Nicholas. The committee recommended St. Nicholas be enlarged, an adjoining community center be built and additional ground for parking be obtained. The property at 4937 Forest Park Boulevard was purchased by St. Nicholas.

THE 60'S AND THE '70S

  • May 1, 1960: The Building Committee was authorized to construct the new community center and enlarge the church.

  • 1960: Ground was broken for the new community center. Raymond E. Maritz & Sons, Inc. drew up the architectural plans, and Guttman Construction Co. was the building contractor. 

  • 1973: The Fr. George Mastrantonis Library and the Stewardship Program were inaugurated and the new Church organ was installed.

  • September, 1978: Sunday Chapel Liturgies for children began. 

 

THE 1980'S AND '90S

 

  • A.H.E.P.A.: Chapter 53 began construction of 117 apartments for the elderly in St. Louis County. This project was the forerunner for similar A.H.E.P.A. construction in 16 other locations in 8 states. 

  • Young Adult League (YAL): A program to minister to those over the age of 18 years of age was formed at St. Nicholas.

  • 1987: The Hellenic American Progressive League donated 50 of its 200 acre wooded land to the church, with the intention that it be used for the benefit of parish youth.

  • 1992:  The church sold the former parking lot to the east that it owned to the hospital.

  • June 1998: The parish voted on whether or not to purchase the site on Outer 40 Road. With 62% of 586 voting in favor, the measure fell short by the two-thirds vote required for passage.

  • July 12, 1998: Land on South Outer 40 Drive was purchased.​

THE 2000s - PRESENT DAY

​​

  • May 20, 2007: The St. Nicholas community met in general assembly voting to approve a motion to proceed to build a community center with an attached, 100+ seat chapel.  The Family Life Center is born.

  • June, 2009: Clearing and grading of the Family Life Center site was begun by Paric Construction.

  • May 22, 2010: A ribbon cutting is held at the new Family Life Center. 

THE PROMISE OF THE NEXT CENTURY

 

  • The story of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church has been the story of its people. From its founding by Greek immigrants they weathered hardships, stepped up to challenges of a changing community, and worked through divisions to merge together as one. As Orthodox Christians who believe the Lord’s Spirit is real and present in our daily lives, the community has truly been blessed throughout its first century.​

  • Even as these successes have been manifested in the beauty of the edifices that have been built, they are more importantly reflected in the work the St. Nicholas community does as God’s people. The church and the ministries have left a powerful and positive imprint on many lives in the St. Louis area, throughout the nation and abroad. With God's grace, we continue to do so into our second century.