By Joyce Yeremian, Martha Jamgochian
PROVIDENCE, R.I.—The Armenian Historical Association of Rhode Island (AHARI) formally dedicated its main gallery in memory of Mantoohe and Tateos Heditsian, as bequeathed by their daughter Corrine Heditsian. The Oct. 21 event was a follow-up to the grand opening of the museum, which took place earlier this year, on May 13.
The dedication program began with a blessing by Rev. Kapriel Nazarian of Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church. Ramon Zorabedian, AHARI Chairperson and program Master of Ceremonies, spoke about the genesis of AHARI in 1997 and the role that Corrine Heditsian played in its development. Corrine was the second chair of the organization. She was fully committed to its mission and that of Heritage Harbor, of which AHARI was a member. Corrine and AHARI’s first chairperson, Varoujan Karentz, became members of the Heritage Harbor governing board.
A little-known fact regarding Tateos Heditisian is that he was friends with Colonel Everitte St. John Chaffee of the R.I. State Troopers. Chaffee approached Tateos in 1925 to design the current uniform for the R.I. State Police. Heditsian then measured each trooper and hand sewed each uniform as needed. A fully uniformed RI State Trooper was on hand so that the program attendees could see the commanding and famous uniform of the troopers which has not changed over the years.
Corrine’s brother, Manoog Heditisian, noted that Corrine was very dedicated to AHARI and that she was a very idealistic person, something she got from her parents. Ted Avedisian, Corrine’s nephew, reiterated this, remembering her steadfast commitment to AHARI and Heritage Harbor.
Aram Garabedian made remarks complimenting AHARI and its work, and donated $1,000 so that the organization may continue the work of the museum.
AHARI took this occasion to also thank another museum benefactor—Marilyn Woloohojian—regarding new additions to the gallery, art works by Providence born Armenian artist Karnig Nalbandian. Marilyn made special mention of receiving a copy of the second novel by William Saroyan from Nalbandian that she later had signed by Saroyan himself in Boston. She emphasized how important it is for our community to support our culture and heritage by keeping our culture alive.
Our surprise guest was Hayk Demoyan, the director of the Genocide Museum and Institute in Yerevan (Tsitsernakaberd). He is studying and teaching at Harvard this year under a Fulbright Scholarship. His remarks included getting young people involved in their heritage and culture. Demoyan noted that 2018 is a landmark year, marking the 400th Anniversary of Martin the Armenian visiting the state of Virginia; he was the first Armenian known to have landed in America. Attendees were told about Demoyan’s upcoming book, which documents the early Armenian immigrants to America.
AHARI Board Member Martha Jamgochian discussed the ongoing activities at the museum, including a genealogy subcommittee, chaired by Margaret Chevian and co-chaired by Janet Evans Houser. She explained that a multifaceted approach to genealogy is used that includes helping individuals find information about their ancestors. Special projects, ranging from building a R.I. specific database to collecting family histories and researching family memoirs, are also implemented.
A variety of committees continue to be formed at the museum. Areas of interest are website maintenance, marketing assistance, artifact categorization and documentation, and other related areas for which there are volunteer opportunities.
The public is invited to tour the museum on Saturdays, from noon to 3 p.m., as well as by appointment. The current exhibit includes sculptures and a sculpted relief of Palou by Donabed Cheteyan. Graphite drawings and ceramics by Providence native Karnig Nalbandian, priest vestments, lace and other handwork, Near East Relief posters, mementos, and photographs are also on display.
The museum is located in the Bliss Building, 245 Waterman Street in Providence, R.I., Suite 204. For more information, visit armenianhistorical-ri.org.