Armenians of Pasadena

Background

Saint Gregory Church - Photo Credit: Gilda Davidian

The Armenian community of Pasadena forms part of the larger community of Los Angeles, which includes areas such as Glendale, Hollywood and Montebello. The first mentions of Armenians in Pasadena date back to a newspaper article published in November, 1895, which mentions a man named Dr Milchonians, a guest speaker at the First Congregational Church.

Diran Bahadourian, owner of Good Drugs Pharmacy - Photo Credit: Gilda Davidian

The first Armenian-owned business to open in Pasadena was the “Pashgian Brothers, rugs and draperies”, established in 1903-1904. Later, many refugees settled there following the Genocide and it was estimated that between 2,500-3,000 Armenians were living in Pasadena by 1923. The Armenian community began to be more dynamic, especially with the foundation of the Varoujan Club, formed in 1924 by 20 young Armenians with the aim of organising cultural and social events. The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) also opened its branch in Pasadena in the 1920s.

Most Armenians originally settled near the corner of Allen Avenue and Washington Boulevard. Many Armenian organisations and properties are still situated in this area of Pasadena.

 

 

 

Waves of migration

Zoey and Sanahin - Photo Credit: Gilda Davidian

The majority of those arriving with the initial wave of migration to Pasadena were Protestants from Hadjin (now Saimbeyli) and other towns of Cilicia. They set up the Cilicia Armenian Congregational Church, for many years the only Armenian church in Pasadena. This community mainly comprised Turkish speakers.

The next large wave of Armenian migration to Pasadena came during the Lebanese Civil War beginning in 1975. Armenians from Lebanon and Syria are said to make up the largest proportion of Armenians in the Pasadena area today.

Armenians from Armenia began to arrive in Pasadena following the earthquake in 1988 and the fall of the Soviet Union.

 

Photo Credit: Gilda Davidian