Since 1933, the Syracuse Ukrainian National Home, Inc, (UNH) has been the center of social and cultural activities in the Syracuse Ukrainian-American Community. It has been home to several organizations throughout the years, has strived to serve as a cultural backbone to the city of Syracuse, and has taken pride in its community involvement from its inception.
The date of arrival of the first Ukrainians in Syracuse, New York is not definitively known. It is an established fact, however that in the years 1885-1887 there were several families living in Syracuse from the Carpathian Ukraine and the districts of Lisko and Sanod of Western Ukraine (Austria-Hungary). From that time Ukrainian immigration to Syracuse increased annually reaching a peak during the period 1900-1912.
The early Ukrainian immigrants worked hard from early morning to late in the evening in the steel and wire mills, foundries, factories and on the railroads. Despite the various hardships which confronted them, they gradually forged ahead. With their first savings from their small pay, the Ukrainian men who often came alone to America sent for their families. So as families became established and increased in Syracuse, they directed their thoughts and efforts to building a place of worship. In 1900 they organized the Ukrainian Catholic Parish and in 1903 they erected their first church, a small wooden building which stood just to the west of the present church. They built the present beautiful church in 1913 shortly after the culmination of the original Ukrainian immigration to Syracuse.
The church became the center of all activities. It was and continues to be the place of worship for most Ukrainians in and about Syracuse. The large basement of the church became a meeting place for the Parish and its many fraternal organizations. It served as a social and cultural center for stage plays, dramas, children's programs, choir rehearsals, and various small informal gatherings. It housed the parochial evening school for children, the school for adults in the Ukrainian and English languages and classes in American citizenship.
As social and cultural activities of the Syracuse Ukrainians increased, many prominent Ukrainian people gave thought to the establishment of a community center where most of the social life of the Ukrainians could be better accommodated. This idea, though continually nurtured, was slow in becoming a reality. Most of the Ukrainian social and cultural organizations were still young in their development and their financial resources limited. In the 1920's, however, two organizations were able to purchase wooden residential dwellings and convert them into private meeting rooms, namely; the Ukrainian Sich Society, Branch 282, Ukrainian National Association Club which was located at 409 North Geddes St. and the Rusky-Ukrainian Club which was located at 1317 West Fayette St., the present site of the Ukrainian National Home.
In 1929 the Rusky-Ukrainian Club razed its wooden frame club house and erected a new three story brick building on the same site. The members devoted their time, labor and money toward the construction of the building with its spacious ballroom and meeting room. Upon its completion, Ukrainian social and cultural activities at this new center increased monthly and a bright future seemed assured.
Since completion in 1933, the UNH has been a place for fellow Ukrainians to congregate. However, the Ukrainian National Home has been more than a "Home" for just Ukrainians. It has been a social and sport center for the entire west end. Our facilities have been made available to our neighbors for meetings, sports and other recreational programs.
It is a monument to the combined efforts and sacrifices of all Ukrainians, both young and old; the original immigrants, the new immigrants of the post-World War II period and the American born of Ukrainian descent. The National Home is now the threshold of a new era as a social and recreational center for all Ukrainians.
We are proud of our Ukrainian heritage, and our future is bright.