National Carpatho-Rusyn Cultural Center
Formerly the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, this building now houses a Carpatho-Rusyn cultural center. It was built in 1903 for the Carpatho-Rusyn community by Hungarian architect Titus de Bobula, who gave it a striking resemblance to the Rusyn Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, located in Uzhorod, Subcarpathian Rus. The parish began in 1897 and grew to over 700 families by the 1920s. Since 2004, the church has belonged to the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, which maintains it as a national cultural center--the first of its kind in the United States.
Backstory and Context
Carpatho-Rusyns traditionally live within Ukraine (Transcarpathian region), northeastern Slovakia (Presov region), or southeastern Poland (Lemko region). Approximately 225,000 Carpatho-Rusyns immigrated to the United States between the 1880s and 1914, giving the US the largest Rusyn population outside of Europe, with immigrants and their descendants primarily living in northeastern and north-central states.
The Rusyn language is classified as East Slavic, though dialects vary based on region and may contain influence from Polish, Slovak, or Hungarian.
What is the global Carpatho-Rusyn population? According to the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, it's hard to say: "As has historically been the case with stateless minority groups, Carpatho-Rusyns have been reluctant to identify themselves as such or have simply not been recorded by the governments in the countries where they have lived. Therefore, it is impossible to know precisely the number of Carpatho-Rusyns in any country. A reasonable estimate would place their number at 1.5 million persons worldwide."
Aleksander Duchnovyč (1803 - 1865)
During the 1890s, many Rusyns immigrated from Slovakia, Ukraine, Poland and Hungary to the United States to take jobs in steel mills. They formed a parish, and in 1903, hired Titus de Bobula to design a church. Based on a Rusyn church in Ukraine, the building provided a space for the community to expand over the following decades. In 1929, the church became the Cathedral for the Ruthenian (Rusyn) Diocese in America.
It served as an active place of worship until the congregation left to a new building in 1993. The church was then acquired by the St. John's Eastern European Cultural Center, whose plans to restore it never materialized. In 2004, the Carpatho-Rusyn Society bought the vacant church for $25,000. As C-RS President noted, "It is the most historic building for Carpatho-Rusyns in the United States" (quoted in Ackerman). Unsurprisingly, it's located very close to Pittsburgh, which houses the largest community of Rusyns in the US.
Today, visits to the Cultural Center can be arranged by appointment.
"C-RS National Cultural Center." Carpatho-Rusyn Society. Accessed July 12, 2017. http://www.c-rs.org/munhall.html.
Magocsi, Paul. "Dukhnovych, Aleksander." World Academy of Carpatho-Rusyn Culture. Accessed July 12, 2017. http://www.rusyn.org/litdukhnovych.html.
"Who are the Rusyns?" "Geography and Economy," "Language, Identity, and Culture," Duchnovych & Rusyn Anthem," and "Architecture: Domestic & Sacred." Carpatho-Rusyn Society. Accessed July 12, 2017. http://www.c-rs.org/whoarerusyns.htm.
Image credit 1: https://fatherpitt.wordpress.com/category/munhall/