The former building of the St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church in Haverhill, Massachusetts has been demolished, and the site is now occupied by a new plaza containing a Domino's Pizza shop, The Haverhill Gazette reports.
For nearly 160 years, the church stood at Main and Winter streets. Unitarians worshiped in that now-demolished white wooden building during its early years. The city's Armenian community purchased the building in the middle of the 20th century and St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church was a fixture there for many years.
A small stone memorial on the church property offered a testimony as to why so many Armenians left their homeland a little more than a century ago and settled in the Merrimack Valley. The monument recalled the 1.5 million Armenians who were slaughtered by the Ottoman Empire in the 1915 Genocide.
Today the site is occupied by a new plaza containing a Domino's Pizza shop, a dental office and other small businesses. The church was demolished in June 2017 to make way for the businesses.
The former building of the St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church
The congregation moved to its new home at 1280 Boston Road. The Armenian Church at Hye Pointe combined St. Gregory the Illuminator Church with Holy Cross Armenian Church of Lawrence. The Lawrence congregation needed a new home. The two parishes officially merged in 2002. It was the first such merger to take place within the Armenian Apostolic Church in America.
The new parish purchased the 9-acre site off Boston Road in the city's Ward Hill section. There was a catch, however. How was the parish going to finance the construction of a new church?
Parishioners determined the solution was to sell the church building at Main and Winter streets and use the proceeds to pay for the new church. That was easier said than done.
It took 15 years to sell the building and erect the new church. In 2016, the church congregation finally found a buyer who demolished the church and built the new business plaza in its place.