A new historical marker commemorating Syrian immigrants who flocked to Terre Haute in the early 20th Century was dedicated Thursday.
The unveiling ceremony at Indiana State University’s Foundation office celebrated the community known as “Little Syria on the Wabash.”
Purdue Polytechnic Vincennes professor Jim Tanoos says the marker tells an important story for all immigrants.
“The historical marker represents not only those early immigrants, those hard-working Syrian Americans that came before us, but it also represents every American in pursuit of the American dream, because that was their goal.”
The first of the Syrian group immigrated to Terre Haute in 1904. By 1927, the community founded St. George Orthodox Church as their hub.
The text follows for the state marker entitled “Little Syria on the Wabash”:
In the early 1900s, Arabic-speaking Christian Syrians established a community here, part of a movement of Middle Easterners contributing to the growth of cities in Indiana and U.S. Syrians began their lives in this city as poor pack peddlers and with their savings many bought houses and became grocers. They overcame many obstacles, including prejudice against them. In 1927, Syrians established Orthodox Christian church here, which preserved the community’s identity and traditions. Their children and grandchildren enlarged the local Syrian contribution as professionals, civic employees, and businessmen. They also enriched the city’s cultural vitality through their ethnic festivals and cafes. Many original families are here today.