Photo from “Granite City Chronicle: A Historical Journey”
The Lincoln Place Community House on Niedringhaus Avenue, opened in 1922.
GRANITE CITY — Seven of the 10 members of the 1940 Warriors basketball team, including Andy Hagopian and John Markarian, grew up in Lincoln Place, an ethnic neighborhood in West Granite City.
First known as Hungary Hollow, the neighborhood became home to Hungarians, Macedonian Bulgarians, Armenians and Mexicans, among others.
“It has changed,” Markarian said. “If I were to go down there now, there probably will be people that I wouldn’t even know.”
On Saturday, Lincoln Place will have its annual festival at the Lincoln Place Community Center. The festival, which is free to the public, will celebrate the history of the neighborhood, which attracted millions of immigrants from all over Europe, Asia and Mexico during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“It is part of the Lincoln Place Heritage Association in an effort to preserve the history and the cultural heritage,” said Norma Asadorian, president of the association.
The festival will run from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and parking is free. There will be ethnic food, folk music, and activities such as face-painting, balloon crafts, a magic show and an apple pie baking contest. The event also will feature historic memorabilia of Lincoln Place, such as photos and oral history interviews.
There also will be a children’s book sale, ribbon quilting and quilt display, costume presentation, bead work demonstration, strongman demo and even a juggler.
During the festivities, the LHPA will give $500 scholarships to two people who are descendants of the immigrants of Lincoln Place. They are Granite City graduate Alex Cornett and William Sexton, who is from North St. Louis County.
There will also be a display of the 1940 Granite City boys’ basketball state championship team at the festival, as well as a display of “Men of Granite” books.
Markarian, Hagopian and Everett Daniels are the only living members from the 1940 Granite City boys’ basketball team. Markarian and Hagopian live in Granite City.
Andy Phillip, Ed Hoff, Sam Mouradian, Ebbie Mueller, Evon Parsaghian, Dan Eftimoff and George Gages were the other players on the squad. Byron Bozarth was the head coach.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Hagopian said. “Most of us have never been out of Granite. We were up in Champaign.”
“Men of Granite” was written by Milwaukee sportswriter Dan Manoyan in 2007, chronicling the lives of the players of the 1940 Granite City boys’ basketball team.
“‘Men of Granite’ pretty much tells you like it is,” Hagopian said.
This year, Hollywood producers are making a movie about the basketball team that is based on Manoyan’s book starring Academy Award winner William Hurt. Screenwriter Armand Kachigan is a cousin of Asadorian.
“I like the idea,” Markarian said. “I don’t know when it’s happening or when it’s coming out or how is that going to be. But it’s interesting that somebody is making a movie.”
For more information on the Lincoln Place Heritage Festival, call the Lincoln Place Heritage Association at (618) 451-2611.
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