Renewed Calls to Restore Aram Manoukian’s Historic Yerevan Home

Event Held at the Semi-Destroyed Yerevan Building on the 98th Anniversary of Manoukian’s Death

YEREVAN (A.W.)—A public event was organized on Jan. 29 in front of what is left of the home of one of the founders of the First Republic of Armenia and member of Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Aram Manoukian. The event was organized by a group of Armenian youth who sang, danced, and presented the works and activities of Manoukian to the public, in honor of the 98th anniversary of his passing and to bring awareness to the current state of the building and to issues pertaining to the preservation of cultural and historic monuments in Yerevan.

Youth dancing in front of the historic building. Posters of Aram Manoukian were put up specifically for the event. (Photo: Yerkir)

The home is currently located at 9 Aram Street—a street that was renamed in Manoukian’s honor after Armenia’s second independence. Manoukian lived in the house—which is currently on the list of protected monuments of Armenia—from 1917 to 1919.

Armenia’s Minister of Culture Armen Amiryan was present at the event. While speaking to reporters, Amiryan expressed hope that these sorts of events will bear fruit and achieve their intended goals. “This building remains part of the ‘Old Yerevan’ Project, which, when implemented, can once again make the building what it once was,” said Amiryan.

“Some believe that certain rooms could be turned into a museum, but I think a functioning, living building will make for a better museum rather than a [traditional] museum building,” added Amiryan. “The important thing is to reconstruct the building to create an atmosphere similar to the years of the First Republic.” He assured that the building cannot be destroyed because it is protected by law.

ARF Parliamentary Faction secretary and ARF Supreme Body of Armenia member Aghvan Vardanyan, who was also present at the event, stressed that the government needs to find a solution to this issue, especially when they have agreed to reconstruct it.

“Aram Manoukian is a symbol of the First Republic of Armenia yet there is no statue or monument dedicated to him or his work,” said Vardanyan. “The reconstruction and work for this building has not progressed and the result is the current status of the building.”

The building currently has a commemorative plaque on its outside wall that states that Manoukian once lived there.

Since Armenia’s re-independence in 1991, several people in Armenia and the Diaspora have criticized the state of the building, which has drastically declined over the years, as a result of neglect and indifference.

In a March 2016 op-ed, longtime Armenian activist and former ANCA Chairman Garo Armenian called for an immediate restoration of the building, to ensure that it is ready to open its doors to the public in time for the Centennial of the First Republic in 2018.

“Many years ago, this national shrine, along with the adjacent city block, was hastily privatized by the then-government of Armenia and was allowed to sit there in total oblivion waiting for the ‘Hin Yerevan’ city mall to be conceptualized and take shape. While the original intent seemed to be to restore the building and to turn it into a museum as part of the architectural concept of the future ‘Hin Yerevan’ shopping center, with its occupants gone, the building incurred substantial decay over the years—to the point that it now exists only in the form of a skeleton at No. 9 Aram Street, recognizable only by the barely legible commemorative plaque on its outside wall, placed there decades ago not by the present but the pre-independence authorities of the country,” Armenian wrote in his piece entitled “This House Is the People’s House.”

The building currently has a commemorative plaque on its outside wall that states that Manoukian once lived there. (Photo: Rupen Janbazian)

Armenian concluded that once recuperated, Manoukian’s house will become a “pole of attraction” for Armenian youth around the world. “Its presence, conveyed through rich interactive resources, shall be a source of inspiration for the young and the old,” he stated.

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