Holy Trinity Church ready to leave North Side
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After 50 years of fellowship at their North Side church, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church members are moving to the suburbs.
With planning and fundraising under way, church officials hope to be open in a new McCandless location by spring 2013, said Chris T. Balouris, parish council president.
The new church will sit on 10 acres on Babcock Boulevard, across from UPMC Passavant and La Roche College. The church bought the land in 2008 for $1.05 million.
Mr. Balouris, of McCandless, said there is a mix of emotions as the congregation winds down activities at its current location along West North Avenue.
"The North Side has been an extremely great neighbor and part of us is really sad to be leaving. Change is always difficult, and our roots are on the North Side," he said, adding that he has attended the church for all of his 41 years. "But this is also an exciting time and we have a lot to look forward to."
Holy Trinity found its start on the North Side in 1923, on Sandusky Street. At that time, the North Side was heavily populated with first-generation Greek immigrants anxious to put down roots.
As the years passed, however, church members migrated to different areas, and a survey taken a few years ago found that the majority of the church's 220 families were living in northern suburbs, Mr. Balouris said. About 80 percent were found to live in a 10-mile radius of the new church site.
While the new building will be only slightly larger than the current one, the property allows for future expansion and provides more space for events, such as the annual Spring Greek Festival, held May 11-15. It highlighted traditional Greek foods, music and crafts.
The new church will be a Byzantine design with a dome and with Spanish tile on the exterior. Mr. Balouris said it will look much like a traditional church in Greece. The current church was built in the late 1950s when steel and glass were the favorites of local architects interested in a more modern style.
For the next few weeks through June 12, Sunday services will be held in the current church's social hall. As of June 26, those services will move to Northway Elementary in Ross until the new church is completed. Church officials are leasing the property from the North Hills School District, which is closing the school this year.
The church is expected to cost $6.2 million and will include space for a temple, fellowship area and offices. It will also house a catering hall that can be rented for parties and other events. About half of the land on the site will remain unused for now, but in the future could be used for a gymnasium or other facility, Mr. Balouris said.
Fundraising is on target, Mr. Balouris said, and church officials sold the current church to Northside Institutional Church of God for $950,000 in late April. They will use the building as a church as well, which Mr. Balouris said is a bonus.
"It's nice to know [the West North Avenue site] will still be used as a church and to bring people to together to worship," he said. "I think it makes a lot of us happy to know that."
First Published May 19, 2011 5:56 am