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Saturday, 8 March 2014

The Once Flourishing Armenian Community of Madras is Now No More - 1927

Extract from: The Times of India December 17, 1927


MADRAS LETTER
VESTIGES OF A GREAT PAST

Madras, December 14.

The celebration of a Requiem Mass at St. Mary’s Armenian Church on Sunday the 11th  [December 1927] instant in honour of the General Andranik, who died in America on August 31, serves to remind us, of the existence to this day the city of a small but rapidly disappearing community of Armenians, the descendants of a once flourishing class who possessed vast wealth and made generous public benefactions.

It was a fitting tribute that this small community paid on Sunday to a great Armenian solider who did much to sustain the morale of the small and badly equipped Armenian Army during the great war.  There are many vestiges in Madras City and its suburbs of the commercial enterprise and prosperity of the Armenians and of their glorious past.  Armenian Street, in which the Church is situated, is no longer occupied by Armenians as in days of yore, but there has grown up in it numerous commercial houses and trading establishments and today it is the centre of much business activity.

In Royapuram there is an important road called Arathoon Road, named after a one-time wealthy Armenian gentleman, whose remote descendants can still be traced in Madras.  There is an important bridge on the road to St. Thomas’ Mount, near the Little Mount Church, which owes its existence to the generous benefaction of an Armenian name Petrus Uscan, who constructed it in the year 1726, and which to this day, is a standing example the substantial type of structures guilt in those early days.  The same gentleman, who possessed a markedly religious turn of mind, was responsible also for constructing the long flight of inclined planes and solid stone steps which conduct Roman Catholic pilgrims to the ancient church situated at the summit of St. Thomas’s Mount.

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