The Greek Orthodox Church of the North Side, as St. Nicholas was originally named, came into being at a meeting on March 9, 1936 at the home of Gust Petropoulos in Detroit, MI. In addition to Mr. Petropoulos, the gentlemen present included Messrs. W. Barr (Barbatiotis), E. Broussalis, G. Caralis, G. Conn (Kalopesis), G. Demetriades, J. Dritsas, S. Efthiman, K. Giannios, G. Kalyvas, N. Kyriakou, M. Mihalakis, A. Paterikes, C. Stamos, and B. Stathakis.
During a meeting held on March 29, 1936, the first official Parish Council was elected. The founding members were Nicholas Kyriakou (President), Christ Stamos (Vice-President), Gust Petropoulos (Treasurer), Michael Mihalakis (Secretary), Panayiotis Bakalis, George Lionakis, William Barr, Alexander Mastroyiannis, John Dritsas, Anestis Pasterikis, Spyridon Fakalos, Basil Stathakis, Kyriakos Giannios, John Vintzel, Bill Ioannou, and Panayiotis Zervos. General meetings of the parish were held at 242 Victor, Detroit, MI., while parish council meetings were held at the homes of Messrs. Nicholas Kyriakou and Christ Stamos.
1937 St. Nicholas Hellenic Orthodox Church
In 1937 a building located at the corner of Tuxedo and Hamilton in Detroit was purchased for $18,000 and was named the St. Nicholas Hellenic Orthodox Church. The growth of the parish prompted the purchase of land in 1943 in the Palmer Park area of Detroit for $25,000. The first phase of the church construction, the building of the lower level, where church services were to be held until the church was completed in 1951, was completed at a cost of $148,000. The architects of Phases I and II were Alexander K. Eugenides and Harold Fischer, respectively. Parishioner Louis Christopher was the Chairman of the Building Committee and was instrumental in St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Detroit, MI becoming a reality. The church was subsequently consecrated by the late Archbishop Michael during a 3-day consecration celebration.
1985 A Membership Crisis
The church continued to grow, however, as early as 1985 the parish council was facing some pressing problems, including a decrease in membership from 800 to 350 families, primarily because of the mass exodus from Detroit and the new parishes that awaited the people in the suburbs. Moreover, security issues became a concern, particularly at night. Shortly thereafter, the majority of the Parish Council members voted in favor of relocation and a demographic study and the drafting of the master plan ensued. Included in the plan were: a church edifice to seat a minimum of 500; a chapel for weekday services and baptisms; an administrative area; classrooms; social center; gym; and a retirement complex. A minimum of 10 acres of land was needed.
1987 Troy Land Purchase
An 11 acre tract of land in Troy, located by Mary Souphis, was purchased in 1987 for approximately $210,000. The purchase was approved by the Parish Assembly and the fundraising was spearheaded by the Dean Becharas family, which donated $250,000 to be used for the purchase and development of the land.
1990 Troy Ground Breaking
Constantine Pappas was chosen to be the architect by the Building Committee and was commissioned to draft the plans for Phase I. Phase I was limited to the building of a church, chapel, administrative building and classrooms. The cost of the chapel was prohibitively expensive and the scope of Phase I was revised to include the building of the church, administrative building and the classrooms. A budget of $1,500,000 was established and the ground-breaking ceremonies were held in the spring of 1990. The selling of the church in Detroit to the Mormons for $700,000 assisted with the financing of Phase I. Since the church in Detroit had been sold, the facilities of a nearby elementary school in Troy, where church services were to be held, were rented for 6 months.
1992 Auxiliary Facilities Host Services
In 1992, the administrative/classroom building was completed and church services were held in the south wing of the building. The marble fixtures, including the liturgical altar, pulpit, baptismal font, and prayer stands (proskinitiria), as well as the murals and iconography from the Detroit church, were transplanted into the new church.
1994 Church Opening Door Ceremonies
Opening Door Ceremonies for the church were held in 1994 with Bishop Timothy presiding. The marble fixtures had been installed and an artist was hired to handle the touching-up and installation of the murals and iconography. The iconostasis was subsequently installed and George Philipakis, an artist, was commissioned to paint new icons for the iconostasis. Several months thereafter, the ground-breaking ceremonies for Phase II, the building of the cultural center, were held.
1995 Cultural Center Groundbreaking and opening
As our parish thrived and the number of activities grew, it became necessary to add a Cultural/Banquet Center whereby parish activities could be held. In 1994, the St. Nicholas Parish voted to add this extremely vital venue to the community. One large banquet hall was erected, and a separation wall within allowed multiple activities to be held under one roof. A large foyer was added, allowing for smaller, more intimate activities to be conducted as well as to serve as a cocktail hour/reception area for larger events.
Also included in this addition was a complete production-quality kitchen, allowing St. Nicholas parishioners to cook a variety of foods for both fundraising activities and special events. This banquet facility was also leased out to many catering organizations to act as their primary banquet center for weddings, baptisms, memorials, and more.
2017 Expansion of Classrooms, a new Community Center and On-Site Storage
Over the past 20+ years, the parish has flourished. The number of children attending Sunday School classes has steadily increased, the number of smaller parish events has increased and the church has accumulated lots of items such as vases, BBQ machines, tables, and much more. Most of these items have been stored in multiple off-site storage facilities, requiring parishioner volunteers to load up their vehicles with materials required for specific events, such as the annual Opa! Fest Greek Festival. In 2016, the General Assembly accepted a proposal from the St. Nicholas Parish Council to expand various portions of the St. Nicholas campus to include
- Updated classrooms, including room size updates to comply with State of Michigan guidelines.
- Updated technology in classrooms, allowing teachers to utilize new teaching techniques and materials.
- An updated Community Center where parishioners can gather in fellowship
- On-Site Storage designed to accommodate all of the items in external storage facilities, protected areas to store costumes, etc.
- Updated kitchen coolers and storage areas.