If you’re like me and are frequently trapped in traffic on East Blvd. between 4:30 and 6 p.m., you’re wondering what all the construction mess is about at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, home of the annual Yiasou Festival and its much-sought-after baklava.
I have yet to try the baklava and I’ve never set foot inside one of the buildings except to vote, but I run/jog/walk/drive/bike past the cathedral continually. It’s a fixture in the community, and has been since it was established in 1923. At that time, church services were held in buildings uptown. But the cathedral at 600 E. Blvd. was built in 1954. The Hellenic Center was built in 1967.
So what’s going on? One word: Renovations.
Parish Council president John Mahairas said, “It’s time to sort of up-fit things a bit and make it easier to get into the church.”
What you can expect to see
– If you’re standing (or parked in traffic) in front of the church, a tower with an elevator will be installed on the right side of the cathedral. A new handicap ramp will be on this side as well.
– For the sake of symmetry, a second tower will go up on the left side of the cathedral and will contain a chapel. All construction is being completed through Myers & Chapman.
– For the architecturally savvy: Byzantine architecture will blend with the current, “old-style cathedral.”
– A renovated/redesigned courtyard in the area between the educational/administrative wing and the cathedral. The space will feature several covered walkways to enhance access among the buildings and parking lot. According to Mahairas, this will also improve access to the Yiasou Festival (see you there Sept. 8). He said, “It will be kind of the gateway to the festival and kind of the gateway to East Boulevard.” (And the baklava.)
– A large, circular emblem will be embedded in the front of the courtyard as a symbol of orthodoxy and patriarchy, featuring the Byzantine double-headed eagle. “It’s going to be beautiful,” Mahairas said.
– Meanwhile, the church is renovating the church basement with educational classrooms and redoing the bathroom facilities.
Mahairas said most of the courtyard will be completed Aug. 15, prior to the Yiasou Festival. The two cathedral towers are set to be finished mid-to-late December.
Holy Trinity hasn’t undergone a major renovation since the 1970s, when the education wing was constructed. And this renovation comes along with other exciting changes the church has experienced this past year, according to Mahairas. For example, the congregation welcomed two new priests, Angelo Artemas and Theodore Ehmer.
Of the renovations, Mahairas said, “It’s for our future, it’s looking ahead and showing a true commitment to the community there and to our East Boulevard campus … We’re hoping this will be the launch to a more ambitious project.”
If all goes as hoped, the next phase of renovation would be the educational and administrative wing.
Mahairas said, “We’re hoping this will be the start of something big.”
Images: Katie Toussaint, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral