PARISH PROFILE: St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Lorain, Ohio

Published in the Orthodox Observer, November-December 2018 - page 25

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
Lorain, Ohio

Founded:  1923


The Orthodox Christian presence in this Cleveland suburb of about 65,000 consists of churches in four jurisdictions, of which St. Nicholas is the largest. 

Located along Lake Erie some 30 miles west of Cleveland, the city, beginning in the early1900s, attracted Greek immigrants primarily from Thebes in Central Greece and Corinth in the Pelo- ponnese, according to information from Fr. Gulgas, the parish’s longest-serving priest. The remainder came from northern Greece, along with a few Cypriots and Greek Islanders. The last major influx of Greeks to Lorain was about 60 years ago, making the majority of the parish second- and third-generation Greeks.

Immigrants coming to Lorain established businesses or were drawn by major industries that formed the basis of Lorain’s economy for most of the 1900s, including the American Ship Building Company Lorain Yard, Ford Motor Company’s Lorain Assembly Plan, and United State Steel Corporation’s steel mill on the city’s south side. The Ford plant assembled the Econoline Van, Mercury Montego, Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar. The U.S. Steel mill, which began operating in 1895, stretched for nearly three miles and employed thousands of local residents. Most parishioners who worked for those companies have since retired.

Historical background By 1923, the pioneer Greek settlers organized a parish. The first priest of record, according to a parish history by Nicholas Barbaresso, was Fr. George Dougekos, who held services in various store rooms in South Lorain and later at the YMCA. The committee formed to build a church raised $3,500, purchased two lots for $2,000 in central Lorain and borrowed $10,000 for the mortgage. 

A Greek school also was established and, in 1931, the “Greek American Ladies Club” was founded. In 1934 it reorganized as the Philoptochos chapter