• 1940s

    1942

    During his address to the Diocesan Assembly (convened in Providence, RI, on November 7-8), Archbishop Karekin Hovsepian--then Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America--urges the delegates to create a fund for a cathedral, diocesan center, and community library. After debate, the Assembly approves the idea in principle.

    1943

    The August issue of Hayastanyaitz Yegeghetzi (The Armenian Church)--the official organ of the Diocese--features an editorial written by Archbishop Hovsepian on the need for a cathedral and diocesan center. The envisioned structure is meant to include residences for the Primate and a few celibate priests.

    1945

    With Fr. Tiran Nersoyan, the new Primate, presiding at the Diocesan Assembly (convened in Boston, MA, January 27-28), the delegates adopt a resolution on forming a committee for the Cathedral Building Project.

    At a banquet in New York City on October 21 honoring the Primate, Bishop Tiran Nersoyan, and delegates returning from the National Ecclesiastical Assembly of Holy Etchmiadzin, the "Million Dollar Campaign" for the construction of an Armenian cathedral in New York City is launched. Mr. Haig Kavookjian is the treasurer.

    1946

    Bishop Nersoyan presides at a banquet in New York on February 24 in honor of Armenian-American men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces. The 200 people in attendance at this event raise $20,000 for the Cathedral Project.

    Bishop Nersoyan addresses the Diocesan Assembly (Watertown, MA, November 12-13) on how an Armenian cathedral and diocesan center will be important not only for New York City but for the entire Diocese.

    In a release to the public dated December 16, the Cathedral Project committee states that it has temporarily suspended its fundraising campaign in order to avoid jeopardizing the Repatriation to Armenia Campaign.

    1947

    The editorial in the March Hayastanyaitz Yegeghetzi announces the resumption of the fundraising campaign for the Cathedral Project. On March 15, Bishop Nersoyan delivers a radio address on the subject; its Armenian and English texts are published in the April Hayastanyaitz Yegeghetzi.

    In his address to the Diocesan Assembly (Troy, NY, October 11-12), Bishop Nersoyan states the need to raise $250,000 to purchase a property for the Cathedral Project.

    1948

    The December Hayastanyaitz Yegeghetzi contains an announcement that, with $235,000 already raised, a location in mid-town Manhattan close to the United Nations headquarters is being considered for the project. Four plots of land have been purchased.

    1949

    A press release dated April 25 from the Diocesan Office announces the purchase of a property on Second Avenue in Manhattan between 34th and 35th Streets, facing St. Gabriel Park. As of April, the address of the Diocesan Office is 630 Second Avenue.

    Bishop Nersoyan reminds the delegates of the Diocesan Assembly (North Philadelphia, PA, October 8-9), that "The building of the Cathedral and Community Center, for which the first important step was taken this year, should be promoted vigorously.... All efforts made in this direction will be a wise investment."

    The membership of the Central Committee of the Cathedral and Community Center Project

    Rt. Rev. Bishop Tiran Nersoyan, President and Chairman
    Avedis B. Keljikian, Vice Chairman
    Haik Kavookjian, Treasurer
    Dadour Dadourian, Secretary

    Committee Members:
    Ghevont Aghajanian  
    Mesrob Avakian       
    Joseph Chorbajian     
    Vahan Hagopian         
    Milton B. Ignatius     
    Dikran Missirlian     
    Sarkis Sarafian 
    Stephen Svajian
    Dikran Simsarian
    Vincent Yardum
    Martin Yazmajian 
    Frank Zotian

  • 1950s
    1950

    The annual report of the Diocesan Executive Committee informs that on April 14, Messrs. Haik Kavookjian and Dadour Dadourian co-hosted a dinner at which $40,000 was raised for the project. A house-to-house solicitation will be launched. Bishop Nersoyan is involved in the architectural planning.

    1951

    Bishop Nersoyan states in his address to the Diocesan Assembly (Worcester, MA, October 7-8): "In New York dedicated persons continue their hard work. Yet it is absolutely necessary that communities other than New York also contribute. From these $300,000 should be raised."

    1952

    The Cathedral Project Committee publishes the list of contributors for the period 1943-August 31, 1951. Receipts have reached $370,209.75; the property acquired has cost $259,000.

    At a $50-a-plate banquet in New York, Archbishop Nersoyan urges all adult Armenians to contribute money for the Cathedral and Community Center Project to set an example to the younger generation, who in their time will come forth having learned to give money to the Armenian community. The Primate reports that the property's size is about 22,000 square feet: "Each square foot has cost us $20. It is not our intention to build a monastery away from the city. We could not wish for a better site at this cost."

    1953

    In June, copies of a special prayer for the Cathedral Building Project, composed by Archbishop Nersoyan, are distributed among Armenian families throughout the Diocese via the parish councils of each local church.

    In November, Archbishop Nersoyan reports to the Diocesan Assembly (West Philadelphia, PA, October 10-11) that "even though [total fundraising] is half completed, the raising of half-a-million dollars for the Cathedral and Community Center Project is a significant achievement."

    1954

    Fr. Torkom Manoogian, formerly pastor of the Holy Trinity Church of North Philadelphia, is appointed Executive Director of the Cathedral and Cultural Center Project as of January 1.

    1955

    In February, Archbishop Mampre Calfayan, elected Primate of the Diocese following the April 28, 1954 resignation of Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan, takes part in the signing of the contract with the architectural firm for the first phase of the construction.

    In May, the "Buy a Brick" prize-winning campaign is launched; 150,000 tickets are issued at $1 per ticket.

    In June, Fr. Torkom Manoogian leaves the United States and returns to Jerusalem. Mr. Haik Kavookjian, Treasurer of the Cathedral Project, assumes the position of campaign director. Mr. Kavookjian urges that each member of an Armenian family within the Diocese should contribute $25 for the next two years

    1956

    On February 11, the drawing for the "Buy a Brick" raffle takes place in New York. Names of prize winners are published in the Diocesan monthly.

    Two pieces of good news are received by Campaign Treasurer Haik Kavookjian: first, brothers Sarkis and Hovhannes Diarbekirian have assumed the entire cost of the construction of the diocesan headquarters, in memory of their parents; second, the building of the Cultural Center adjacent to the Diocesan House will be assumed by the Gullabi Gulbenkian Foundation in memory of Gullabi Gulbenkian. These announcements are made in an editorial in the July Hayastanyaitz Yegeghetzi.

    1958

    In April, demolition of the site begins. The Diocesan Office operations are temporarily moved to the facilities of the St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, located on 35th Street, around the corner from the construction site.

    1959

    On January 24, Archbishop Sion Manoogian, the new Primate of the Diocese, is joined by former Primate Archbishop Calfayan, in blessing the cornerstones of the Diocesan Center.

    In November, the first unit of the Cathedral complex--the Diocesan House--is completed. The brand new office of the Primate, Archbishop Sion Manoogian, is on the second level of the three-story building, and the Primate's residence is on the third level.

  • 1960s

    1960

    In May, His Holiness Vasken I, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, visits his flock in America for the first time, arriving in New York City by plane. He holds conferences in the reception room of the Diocesan House on several occasions.

    1963

    The contract for the design of the Cathedral and Cultural Center is awarded to the New York architectural firm of Steinman, Cain and White. The principal architect is Walker Cain.

    1965

    On May 2, the foundation of the Cathedral is dedicated by Archbishop Sion Manoogian.

    1966

    On October 2, the cornerstone of the Cathedral is blessed by the new Primate, Bishop Torkom Manoogian.

    1967

    On October 21, the Gullabi Gulbenkian Cultural Center is dedicated. The large auditorium of the complex is named the Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium.

    1968

    On April 28, His Holiness Vasken I, Catholicos of All Armenians, consecrates the newly-completed Cathedral in the name of St. Vartan.

    The Rev. Fr. Levon Arakelian is appointed administrator of the center.

    His Holiness Vasken I elevates the Diocesan Primate, Bishop Torkom Manoogian, to the rank of "Archbishop."