Author: ARDELEANU KONSTANTIN
The number of Greek in Constanţa increased after the inauguration of the Danube – Black Sea railway in 1860, as numerous Greeks settled themselves in the growingly prosperous town. Statistics mention 1,543 Greeks in 1880, 2,460 in 1894 and 2,326 in 1916.
According to available information, a house of prayer served by a Greek deacon existed at Constanţa during the 1850s. A wooden church was erected in 1862 after the donation of the Ikonomou family from Tergesti, with the support of archpriest Fillipos Tzoulatis of Cefalonia and of Baker, the director of the British railway. The development of the local Greek community made a proper temple extremely necessary, and in 1863, following the mediation of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchy, Sultan Abdul Aziz donated to the Greek community an estate in central Constanţa. For funding the construction, Archpriest Tzoulatis organised a public collect, and generous donations poured from all over Europe. The “Metamorphosis” Church was built between 1863 and 1865 according to the plans of Greek architect Ioan Teoharidis. It is built in stone, in a simple architectural style, and it was painted by a painter from Mount Athos .
The church also housed confessional schools for Greek pupils, so that by late 19th century sources attest a Greek primary school for boys and one for girls, with as many as about 300 pupils.
The Greek Community, called Elpis, created to reanimate and support Hellenism, was constituted on 24 September 1890. It was led by a committee of five members: Haril Psarafti, Elefterior Giovanoglu, Panagiotis Kouloumoundra, Menelaos Triantafillou and Georgios Kouzou, who also drafted the statutes of the association .
According to its mission, the association was to improve relations between its members, to transmit practical and useful information to future generations, to provide ethical and moral education to young Greeks, to provide education in the credo of national independence, of spiritual, religious and brotherly feelings. Initially, the community was supported by the fees paid by its members, as well as by donations, loans or by the shares held at the National Bank of Greece. In 1894 it had a budget of 785.45 francs, and by 1911 it increased to 22,169.40 francs. Since 1898 the community had a theatre, Elpis, rented for shows, dances, weddings etc., and thus bringing important incomes to the community’s budget .
The community had several honorary members, such as those appointed in 1903: Grigorios Maraslis, Ν. Kapsalis (president of “Hellenism” foundation and rector of the University of Athens), Timoleon Arghiropoulos (president of the philological association “Parnassos”), Spiros Lambru and P. Karolidis (professor) .
The community supported financially the Greek national cause, but it spent most of its incomes for local charity, both among the poor Greek or foreigners of Constanţa. In December 1909, for example, the community donated 100 francs for the poor people. In relation to the same philanthropic activities, in 1915 several Greek women established the Union of Ladies for Supporting Poor People, founded by Mrs Georghiadou and with Kakia Grangopoulou as its first president. It organised dancing evenings for gathering money, spent for helping poor Greeks, for funding a canteen in winter for poor students and for making presents to poor families on Christmas .
The presidents of the Hellenic community were: A. Gheorghiadi (1890–1893), N. Hatzikyriakos (1894–1895), Ioannis Psaravtis (1895–1896), N. Hatzikyriakos and L. Kulumundras (1896–1897), Lask. Laskaridis (1897–1898), N. Nikoletopoulos and K. Xanthopoulos (1898–1899), L. Laskaridis and Ν. Nikoletopoulos (1899–1900), Stamos Mavroghiannis (1900–1902), N. Nikoletopoulos (1902–1908), Ν. Hatζikyriakos (1908–1909), Trohani N. Gheorghe (1909–1910), Panagiotis Frangopolos (1910–1913), G. Tsitsilianopoulos (1913–1915), D. Dimitriou (1915–1916) .
 Serviciul Judeţean Constanţa al Arhivelor Naţionale, Fond Comunitatea greacă, Description of the archival fund, 1–2; the documents are presented in Dobrogea între medieval și modern, 1406–1918, edited by Virgil Coman, Carmen Dobrotă, Claudia Turcitu (Constanța: Ex Ponto, 2008), 54–57, 66–67. Details on the church in Adrian Rădulescu, Stoica Lascu, Puiu Haşotti, Ghid de oraş. Constanţa, (Bucharest: Sport Turism, 1985), 65–66 and http://www.elpis.ro/pdf/monumente-grecesti-constanta.pdf.
Serviciul Judeţean Constanţa al Arhivelor Naţionale (The National Archives, Constanţa Branch), Primăria municipiului Constanţa (The Municipality of Constanţa), files starting with 1878.
Serviciul Judeţean Constanţa al Arhivelor Naţionale [The National Archives, Constanţa Branch], Fond Comunitatea greacă [The Greek Community], files starting with 1863.
Dobrogea între medieval și modern, 1406–1918 [Dobrudja between Medieval and Modern, 1406–1918], edited by Virgil Coman, Carmen Dobrotă, Claudia Turcitu (Constanța: Ex Ponto, 2008).
Rădulescu, Adrian, Lascu, Stoica, Haşotti, Puiu, Ghid de oraş. Constanţa [City Guidebook. Constanţa] (Bucharest: Sport Turism, 1985).