The Displaced Persons Act of 1948 permitted over 300,000 immigrants to enter the U.S. On August 22, 1909 the Ukrainian American Citizens’ Association (UACA) began with 35 members. After membership nearly doubled to 68 by the end of the year, plans were made to acquire a permanent building.
In December 1910, UACA rented a building located at 822 N. Franklin St. At the general meeting, it was recorded that UACA had 204 members. The total income for 1910 was over $400.00 and cash in the treasury increased from $25.55 to $143.41.
The years 1911 through 1915 saw continued growth in both membership and community activities. A central library was started and blessed by Bishop Stephen Soter Ortynsky, the first Bishop of all Greek Catholics in the United States. The English language was taught to Ukrainian immigrants to help them attain citizenship, a music school was started to create an orchestra, a bank was established, a Mission Statement was created and permission was granted to open a bar. But the most significant event at this time was the purchase of 822 N. Franklin St. and the building of a new hall for weddings and affairs. When the hall was completed, a concert was held. The rental fee was decided to be $8.00. The total cost of building the hall was $12,533.97. To put the figure of this rental fee into perspective, in 1915, a gallon of whiskey cost $2.50, a gallon of wine cost $1.50 and a barrel of beer cost $6.50. The Ukrainian Club was established in Nicetown.
In the war years of 1916 to 1918 and in the post-war years, the UACA provided financial aid to Ukrainian causes and assisted in resettling Ukrainian refugees in America. Concerts were held to raise the money needed for this endeavor. A memorial was held at UACA for the passing of Bishop Ortynsky and Ivan Franko.
In 1922, a landmark achievement occurred. The former “Mercantile Hall”, located at 847 N. Franklin St. was purchased. The new hall was dedicated and opened on December 3, 1922, and rapidly became the center of Ukrainian community life. It was here that many and varied Ukrainian organizations were headquartered.
The continued growth UACA in community activities also included the start of involvement in the political process. In 1931 the Ukrainian community sponsored the candidacy of Major Michael Darmopray for Philadelphia City Council. UACA members provided many hours of volunteer work and a donation of $50.00 was made to achieve this goal. The vigorous health of UACA is evident in the annual income of $12,546.87 for 1931.
In 1932 to 1934 the UACA continued to grow and prosper.
The 25th Anniversary was held in 1934. Lectures by noted authors and ambassadors spoke to groups assembled in meeting rooms or the Hall. Concerts and zabavas were held to continue the financial support to Ukraine. The annual income for 1935 is documented as $17,482.68. Remember, those were the Depression years when a brand new Ford could be purchased for $350.00.
As America entered World War II, UACA’s community and cultural activities continued unabated. Many members entered the Armed Forces while those remaining on the home front participated in the general American effort. An honor roll of members in the Armed Forces was prepared and assistance to wives and children of member servicemen was provided. Food packages with an average value of $10.00 to $15.00 were periodically sent to all members serving in war zones. In 1944 the massive relief effort for Ukrainians began, and the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee, Inc. (ЗУДАК) was formed to help Ukrainians and worked closely with t UACA.
The Displaced Persons Act of 1948 permitted over 300,000 immigrants to enter the U.S. From 1945 until 1950 the foremost activity of UACA, and all other Ukrainian organizations in the U.S., was the resettlement of Ukrainians displaced by the war in Europe. UACA immediately responded by sponsoring immigrants, providing shelter and food, teaching English and providing general help to become acclimated to their new life in Philadelphia. The financial report of that time shows that over $5,000.00 was spent on such assistance. As a contrast, the median weekly salary of an American worker in 1949 was $47.00. This influx of Ukrainians led to a rapid growth in both community activities and in membership.
The late 1950’s and early 1960’s saw the beginning of a massive redevelopment effort by the Philadelphia City Government in the area surrounding UACA. This entailed the demolition of a large number of buildings and was the direct cause of the eviction of many UACA members.
In the spring of 1963, UACA purchased the City block bounded by Poplar Street on the north, Parrish Street on the south, Franklin Street on the west and 7th Street on the east. This property was purchased for the sum of $40,000.00 in order to benefit the local community by providing a safe green space for recreational activities. The short-sighted City Redevelopment effort and subsequent deterioration of the neighborhood led to the gradual decline in membership and an erosion of the financial health of UACA.
By the late 1970’s the height of this trend of the movement of Ukrainians to outlying areas of the city was continued. The 1980’s and 1990’s saw the involvement a new generation of Ukrainians at the UACA. This generation whose parents immigrated to America after World War II were left with the task of re-establishing the UACA.
The 75th Anniversary celebrated in 1984 was a testament to the determination of this new generation. The new millennium added yet another generation of Ukrainian descendants to the UACA who went on to celebrate the UACA Centennial in 2009. This was followed by the building of a new Members Bar off of the side patio in 2011. The Grand Opening of the new bar was celebrated in the first of an annual event continued today –The St. Patrick’s Day Pig Roast.
Today many generations of Ukrainians, including the most recent immigrants, work together with UACA friends and neighbors in Northern Liberties to ensure the Association continues to thrive. Membership continues to grow, the hall is rented every weekend and the large yard is home to an annual co-ed volleyball league, men’s soccer league, the Annual Ukie Cup Two Day Soccer Tournament and many fundraisers and charitable events.
Ukrainian American Citizens' Association
847 N. Franklin Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Phone: (215) 627-8790
Thursday: 6PM - 12AM
Friday: 6PM - 2AM
Saturday: 12PM - 2AM
Sunday: 12PM - 11PM