ESTIA Neas Smyrnis

The Milestones

The history of Estia was not written in one day. Some days, however, made it shine more than others. There have been bright days, full of hope, as there have been dark ones too. All days, nevertheless, constitute the history of Estia; its personality. Otherwise, it would not have been the same. It would not have been what it is today nor what it will continue being in the future.

1930 – Establishment of the “Society of Nea Smirni” by Asia Minor Greek refugees, namely Sotirios Gounaris, Thanos Karyllos, Mihail Platanis, Nikolaos Baloglou, Ioannis Dimitriadis, Aggelos Kechagias and Prodromos Apostolidis.

1938 – The Club is renamed to “Estia Neas Smirnis” by its visionary President Panos Haldezos, with a view to expand the national, social, educational and intellectual pursuits of the Club and showcasing Nea Smirni as a model town. Panos Haldezos’ contribution has been more than decisive in the achievement of Estia’s objectives and its evolution in a glorious cultural and intellectual center.

1939 – Symbolic foundation of the House of Estia Neas Smirnis. The cornerstone was set by King George II, accompanied by Paul, then heir to the throne in the presence of thousands of people on a lot granted to Estia by the Community of Nea Smirni (1938). The foundation was symbolic since the construction works were interrupted for 15 years on account of the war, the occupation and the internal plight Greece slipped into afterwards.

1947 – Establishment of Estia’s Library by Fyli Vatidou, poetess and Director of Estia. Following its establishment, the Library was immediately filled with many rare collections from Asia Minor Greek benefactors, such as Georgios Askitopoulos, Georgios Yperidis, Dimosthenis Daniilidis, Polymnia Laskari, Ioanna Sykoutri and many others.

1950 – The Archive of the Historic Association “Anatoli” is handed over to Estia; it is probably the greatest acquisition of our Library. The archive was acquired further to some actions undertaken by the President of Estia, Panos Haldezos, and the old members of “Anatoli” Board of Directors. This Association, a subsequence of the homonymous association in Smyrna, was established in 1891 in Athens by a group of Asia Minor Greeks, mostly students and intellectuals, amongst which Margaritis Evaggelidis of Kyzikos (1850-1932) and Pavlos Karolidis of Cappadocia (1849-1930), both instructors at the time, then eminent university professors, with the aim to cover the educational and religious needs of Greeks living in Asia Minor and its adjacent islands, namely Chios, Samos, Mytilene and the Dodecanese which were enslaved at the time. The archive includes many letters of people believing in the concept of common racial origin, just as in the single and undivided cradle of Greeks in Asia Minor.

It is worth noting that the Archive was looked into and filed by Ms. Kyriaki Mamoni, laureate of the Academy of Athens and Estia Neas Smirnis, who refused to attend a post-doctoral course in Strasbourg in order to pore over the Archives of Estia’s Library without remuneration.

1951 – Estia Neas Smirmis is awarded the 1st Prize of the Academy of Athens in honor and acknowledgement of the national, social and intellectual work done by Estia. The award ceremony was attended by King Paul and many dignitaries and intellectuals in the formal sitting of the Academy of Athens.

1955 – Four years after the Academy of Athens award, Estia is awarded the 1st class Golden Prize for Local Government by the National Foundation under the presidency of King Paul, as acknowledgment of Estia’s offer to the Modern Greek culture. The Prize was handed to Panos Haldezos by the Prefect of Attica, L. Paparrigopoulos, in a special ceremony at the Hall of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, before representatives of the Foundation, the Mayor of Nea Smirni and many people.

1955 – Actual foundation of the House of Nea Smirni. On June 12, 1955, the building of the House of Nea Smirni was solemnly founded by the State Secretary for Welfare, Konstandinos Yavassoglou, who, in a symbolic gesture, placed in the foundations a box containing soil from the Panionian Sports Club Stadium and the cemetery of Nea Smirni. “Who knows? Maybe in the little ash contained in this sacred soil a spark of the Holy Phoenix, who reborn, will revive the legends and transform hopes into reality”. On that wish, Panos Haldezos closed down his speech during the House foundation ceremony. In his speech, Panos Haldezos says: “The House, the foundation of which we celebrate today, serves a double purpose. On the one hand, to maintain, as an Arch, the traditions and memories of the glorious old culture of remembered homelands of Asia Minor, Pontus, Thrace and Istanbul and on the other hand create a hive for the new brighter culture of this land and the former unredeemed culture”.

1957 – Establishment of “I Smirni” Maritime School, mainly sponsored by Aristotle Onassis. On July 23, 1957, the Naval Engineering School of Estia Neas Smirnis was solemnly established in the presence of Mayor Athanassios Karyllos. The vision behind the establishment of the School was the development of a modern civilization on the standards of the superior culture of the remembered homelands of Asia Minor, Pontus and Thrace. It should be noted that the School’s initial designation was “Onassis School of Naval Engineering”. However, in line with Aristotle Onassis’ wish the School was renamed to “Night School for Naval Engineering of Estia Neas Smirnis “I Smirni””.

1962 – Opening of 30 halls of the six Technical Schools of Estia, at a solemn opening ceremony held on April 8, 1962, in the presence of important personalities of the time, such as King Paul, Frederica and the Minister of National Education Grigorios Kassimatis. The 30 halls of the building housed the day model high school “Estia Neas Smirnis”, the “Vassiliadio Night Vocational School” for economics, the Night School for Naval Engineering “I Smirni” and the Technical Schools.

1975 – Opening of the monumental House on Chrisostomou Smirnis Square on April 20, 1975, in the presence of the President of the Republic Mihail Stassinopoulos, the Archbishops of Athens & the Senior Hierarch for the Orthodox Church in America Seraphim and Jacob, ministers, academics, university professors and many other personalities. The completion of the ornate House of Estia, as an arch of memories and a true hive of creative work, was a dream that became reality not only for Estia Neas Smirnis but for the Asia Minor Greeks in general thanks to multiple donations by the State, the Municipality of Nea Smirni and tens of citizens mainly of Asia Minor Greek descent.

1980 – Establishment of the Elderly Care Facility “Oikos Galinis” on July 7 1980, on the day Estia Neas Smirnis celebrated its 50 years of action. The foundation stone set reads as follows: ““Oikos Galinis of Estia Neas Smirnis” is established under the Presidency of Konstantinos Karamanlis, Prime Ministry of Georgios Rallis, Ministry for Social Services of Spyros Doxiadis, under State Secretary for Welfare – Social Service Athanassios Tsoukandas, Mayor of Nea Smirni Charalambos Behlivanidis and President of Estia Neas Smirnis Panos K. Haldezos”.

1980 – Estia is awarded the Golden Medal of the Academy of Athens, during its annual solemn sitting on December 30 1980 (1951 – 1st Prize of the Academy of Athens). The Academy, which had awarded a prize to Estia Neas Smirnis in the past, awarded it with this special award in acknowledgment of its great achievements in the years that followed its first award. The Academy also awarded the President of Estia Panos Haldezos for his 68 year-long creative action at national, social and cultural level. In acknowledgement of his successful tenure as President of Estia Neas Smirnis, as well as of his contribution to the establishment of the Club as one of the greatest public benefit purpose institutions in Greece.

1990 – Ten years after the establishment of the Elderly Care Facility “Oikos Galinis”, the opening was ceremoniously held. The Facility is housed in a six-floor privately-owned building with a capacity of 62 beds. The completion of the building’s construction works was made possible thanks to donations by both the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation and private benefactors.

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