Armenian Cultural Garden

Dedicated September 19th, 2010, the Armenian Cultural Garden celebrates the distinctive identity of the Armenian people. Designed by architect Berj A. Shakarian, the site plan is devised in the form of the "vesica piscis", a sacred geometric symbol representing Christ and by extension the conversion of Armenia as the first Christian nation in 301 CE. The "Alphabet" monument symbolizes the centrality of the Armenian language in creating the Armenian state. In order to make the Bible accessible to Armenians, St. Mesrop Mashtots invented the alphabet circa 404 CE. According to the Armenian delegation, "The garden's divinely inspired script is the 'secret code' that defines the unique Armenian identity."

"Alphabet" is composed of staggered granite blocks, representing both the turbulent history of the Armenian people and the ruggedly beautiful landscape of Armenia and the Caucasus region. The reverse side of the monument is inscribed with "Pride of a Nation" and lists the anglicized names of 33 men and women who are noted for their historical and cultural contributions to the Armenian nation. Their accomplishments are briefly noted next to their names. These important Armenians' lives span history from antiquity to the 21st century; from the king Tigran the Great (140-55BCE) to the journalist Hrant Dink (1954-2007).

Armenians began immigrating to Cleveland in 1906 or 1907 from Worcester, MA to work in a Cleveland branch of a Massachussetts company. By 1910 there were more than 100 Armenians in Cleveland, many originally from the Turkish city of Malatya. The Armenian population approached 1,500 by WWII.

The Armenians arriving in Cleveland did not settle and congregate in any distinct areas. The Armenian Church became the protector of traditional Armenian culture. In addition, a Saturday school that taught language and history was opened in 1970, and, between the 1950s and the 1970s, an Armenian radio program played for an hour every week. The community has remained stable since the 1960s, with a population of around 2,500.

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