MELBOURNE | The Centenary of its impressive building, Loco Hall, at North Melbourne, celebrated on Friday 14th of November the Panarcadian Association of Melbourne “O Kolokotronis”, with a cocktail party which was attended by over 200 invited dignitaries, members and friends.
It was a unique and memorable event in that no other Greek organisation in our diverse community in Victoria has had the honour, the opportunity and the foresight to organise and commemorate the history of the building that they own.
Loco Hall was built in 1914 by the Victorian Locomotive Engineers, Drivers, Firemen’s and Cleaners Association and was purchased by the Panarcadian Association in 1985.
Over the years successive Committees of the Association began a visionary refurbishment program that breathed new life into Loco Hall in order to do justice to this iconic building.
Dimitrios Alexopoulos, president of the Panarcadian Association of Melbourne, welcomed everyone and thanked those who took part in the organization of this important event as well as the Commemorative Committee for undertaking this archival project and producing a book that reflects the many voices that have stamped their mark on the rich tapestry that we refer to today as multicultural Victoria.
Mr. Chin Tan, Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission congratulated the Panarcadian Association for their accomplishments and progress with the refurbishment of this wonderful building. He expressed the wish that the broader community could have access to this facility by being part of an inclusive society and wished that in 100 years time when we are all gone, his grandchildren and the Arcadian grandchildren would meet and form lasting bonds.
The history of the building was documented in a commemorative bi-lingual book “Loco Hall 1914-2014” that was launched by Ms Jenny Mikakos, M.P.
Ms Mikakos in her speech amongst others said: “It is an honour for me to launch this significant book” and she referred to the building’s connection with the labour movement and the Greek migration to Australia. She emphasized that the building was constructed for the use of the Railway workers who were mostly migrants and as a politician, she is proud to represent a community which is hardworking and progressive and praised the success of the Arcadians. The book was compiled by a special commemorative committee, edited by Tony O’Brien and translated and designed by Stavros Messinis.
Mr Dimitrios Kalodimos, a founding member and Vice-President when Loco Hall was purchased in 1985, referred to the establishment of the Panarcadian Association “O Kolokotronis” in 1959 and the vision that they held for the creation of an entity that represented their beliefs, customs, language and ethnicity. He went on to say “I consider it an honour and privilege that I have been one of the foundation members of the organising committee to form this great organisation that is “Kolokotronis”. […] I am happy and I feel very pleased that today we celebrate together the centenary of the magnificent building that became our home almost 30 years today. The Arcadians are an integral part of a greater multicultural community that makes up the wonderful country of Australia that we have proudly adopted as our new home.”
Finally, Irene Giavas’ speech was received with great interest as representing the next generation and where to now? Irene, is an enthusiastic Committee member who very briefly expressed her appreciation for what the first generation had accomplished and expounded her thoughts about the continuation and vision of the Association by referring to the following:
“Our way forward is inclusion, to open our doors and hearts to include others, to seek to expand our membership and to invite other clubs to interact with us and to equally support other clubs with their functions and endeavours. […] Our vision is we pass these traditions and cultural nuances to the next generation by inter-generational networking. Just as the young can teach the old how to connect to facebook the old can teach the young how to make the perfect baklava.”
This well organised function was a resounding success and everyone present went away with not only a memento of this significant building, in the book that was given to all who attended, but also in the different memories this event evoked.