Celebrating Portsmouth 400!
St Nicholas is proud to partner with Portsmouth 400 in celebrating Portmouth's 400th anniversary and the contribution of our Greek immigrants and parish members to this city's history.
The first Greek immigrant settled in Portsmouth in 1893. As others joined him, they all brought family members over from Greece and Asia Minor and the community grew. They would work in local factories and businesses with their goal of establishing their own businesses. Between 1925 - 45 it is estimated that 50% of local businesses in down town Portsmouth were owned by Greek entrepreneurs. Andrew Harry Jarvis became the mayor of Portsmouth from 1958 - 1959. In 1961 he was elected as a member of the Executive Council of New Hampshire. He is credited for helping to start the Strawberry Banke Historical Society which helped to transform the area into the historical gem we know today. He also helped to bring Pease Air Force Base to Portsmouth.
Greek families operated storefront businesses such as barber shops and hair stylists, billiard rooms, bowling alleys, bakery, cafeterias, luncheonettes and restaurants (including The Paris Room, Apollo Lunch, Jarvis Tea Room, The Navy Restaurant, The Little Gem Cafe, The West End Cafe, The Savoy Restuarant and so many more), confectionery & fruit, variety stores, groceries & meat markets, hotels (including the Rockingham Hotel). The Kittery Fruit Co served a large population of the Shipyard as did De Luxe Bakery which delivered fresh bread every day to the Naval Prison. The businesses were an integral part of daily life serving all who lived and worked in Portsmouth.
St Nicholas was (and continues to be) the center of life for Greek immigrants and their families. They purchased the vacant Cabot St School in 1933 and converted it into the first St Nicholas Greek Orthodox church. In 1971 the church moved into its present location on Andrew Jarvis Dr. We continue to preserve the traditions and culture of Greece by teaching the Greek language, celebrating our beautiful religious holidays, enjoying delicious foods. Many of our parishioners are not Greek and we embrace the ethnic diversity that is now a part of our community!