St. Lazarus Square (former Headquarters)

Eleftheriou Venizelous square 

One of the first buildings of Vyronas was the so-called Headquarters, a two-storeyed, multi-functional building with a gable roof covering its central part. Several public services were hosted there, such as the police station, the first aid station, the post office etc. After the inauguration of the Town Hall (i.e. after 1934), the main service hosted there was the post office. On April 16th 1924 this was the spot where the official inaugural ceremony for the new settlement took place; the settlement was named after Lord Byron, the British Philhellene and poet, who had expired exactly a century earlier in Missolonghi. All political, military and ecclesiastic leaders were present, along with large crowds of people. Henry Morgenthau, in charge of the Refugees Settlement Commission, addressed the crowds with a speech in praise of Lord Byron and placed the foundation stone of the nursery dedicated to Byron in a symbolic movement. A marble slab with the name of the settlement and the foundation date was placed on the façade of the Headquarters.

A picture from that date shows some girls in the first floor window between flags of Great Britain and the United States, which had supported financially –with loans- the mission of the refugees’ restitution. However, the inhabitants of Vyronas were not very happy, due to the fact that the names of streets around the Headquarters were given randomly, without any effort to respect the refugees’ identity. Hence, a few days after the inaugural celebrations, they started ripping off the signs and eventually the authorities had to replace them with others, bearing names that linked the place to the former, lost, homeland.
In 1995, despite the inhabitants’ protests, the building of the Headquarters was demolished and a block of flats was built in its place. The marble slab was attached to a block of flats nearby. On the square of St. Lazarus, nearby a bust of Lord Byron was erected in 2004, for the celebration of the 80 years from the foundation of the settlement of Vyronas. A large slab nearby commemorates the event.

Additional information

"For today's celebration of Pangrati at 11.30 a.m., when the inaugural celebration of the settlement of Vyronas will take place along with the setting of the foundation stone of the nursery that is going to be founded by mr. and mrs. Morgenthau no special invitations were dispatched. The people invited by the Committee at the other celebrations were considered invited anyways. During the setting of the stepping stone of the Morgenthau nursery his Holiness the Metropolitan Bishop will say prayers. After mr Morgenthau's speech, the Saint of Ephesus will adress the congregation. The slab which mentions that the new settlement will bear the name of Lord Byron will be revealed by Mr. Bakalbasis, minister of Health On behalf of the Refugees' Settlement Commission will deliver a speech its vice-president, mr. Campbell.
Τhe little church of St. Lazarus existed before the influx of the refugees. The first Asia Minor inhabitants of Vyronas followed mass there and at the Church of the Assumption. However, after the official inaugural celebration of the settlement, when it became clear that the refugees were there to stay and that the settlement had to be permanent, the managing committee of the church were worried because they thought that the ownership of the church was at stake. Thus, when a committe of refugees asked for the keys of the church in order to celebrate Easter there, the managing committee refused. The Archbishop Chrysostome II intervened as he was already active in the process of the protection of the refugees. He appointed a new managing committe. However, the old managing committee, gave to the new one the keys to the church, but it had taken away in advance all the sacred utensils and the funerary cubicle of Christ. The refugees were forced to make a substitute cubicle and this is how the first Resurrection and the first Easter of the refugees was celebrated in Vyronas.