PNA Lodge 513 History

JEDNOSC - PNA Lodge 513 History

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The year 2000 marks the 100th anniversary of the Polish National Alliance Lodge 513 in Wallingford, CT. Through the inspirational efforts of Gabriel Kraszewski, the society was formed on April 13, 1900 and was accepted into the Polish National Alliance on May 5, 1900. The purpose of the club was to bring those of Slavic origin together for mutual aid and entertainment, and to preserve and cultivate Polish tradition. The Lodge adopted the Polish name of Jednosc,” meaning oneness.” The first 13 charter members were: Peter Werpichowski, President; William Piechowski, Vice President; Gabriel Kraszewski, Secretary; Jacob Bukowski, Treasurer; John Bogucki and Thomas Strojny Trustees; Felix Kaminski, Marshal; along with Andrew Chmielewski, Lawrence Warzocha, Stanley Bukowski, John Kosiek, Stephany Bukowski, and Felix Pomichowski. From its original 13 members, the Lodge has enjoyed a steady growth in membership until now it has some 572 members.

In 1909 the Lodge established a sick benefit insurance for its members. In 1914 Lodge 513 purchased a two story building on Prince Street, then known as the Trades Council Hall. The downstairs had a hall for dancing, plays, and large meetings. The second floor contained the club rooms for meetings and informal gatherings. The building was a central gathering place for Polish people in Wallingford. This building also served as a beginning site for services for both Polish parishes in Wallingford. In 1947 the PNA decided to improve and remodel the building on Prince Street. Where there was once a hall, the lower floor was changed to accommodate club rooms -consisting of a reading room, two small rooms for private meetings, an office for the secretary, and shower room. The upstairs of the club was converted into a hall. A tragic fire in 1954 destroyed this hall and many of its records, and the center, which had become a focal point for Polish people in Wallingford, seemed in jeopardy. However, by November 10, 1956 a new structure was dedicated on Prince Street which has survived to today. The Lodge is currently initiating several renovations in the structure.

In 1932 Lodge 513 purchased 24 acres of land, then known as Paden Park, and renamed it The Polish National Alliance Park. A pavilion for dancing was erected and a pond created through the efforts of its membership. Over the years, the P.N.A. Park has been the scene of numerous picnics and dances. Various sporting events, including soccer matches, have been held on its playing field. Before World War II, the PNA District II Polish Scouts held their camps at the park, and the facility has been the site for District II's annual Youth Day Festivals. Most recently, the PNA Park has been utilized by SS. Peter and Paul Church as a site for its annual Polka Festival.

In 1976, a group of PNA Lodge 513 members approached the Wallingford Town Council to request that the name of the road adjacent to the PNA Park, North Plains Highway, be changed to the Casimir Pulaski Highway. While the name change to the road did not occur, the Town Council in July, 1977 did rename the area to the Casimir Pulaski Industrial Park.

Besides its facilities, Lodge 513, through its 100 years of existence, has been a multifaceted organization for those of Polish heritage in Wallingford. During World War I and World War ll, the club took part in the national war effort, collecting clothing and funds for the relief of war victims. During World War I Group 513 took an active part in assisting the Polish Army by recruiting local men for the Polish Army. The Lodge also arranged for the collection of clothing and other items for shipment to Poland where the people were suffering under wartime conditions. Again, during World War II, Poland was hit hard by the conflict. The local Lodge organized a Savings Committee, consisting of all local Polish organizations, who worked under the direction of Lodge 513. Funds and clothing were collected to aid the Polish people, with more than $ 6,000.00 collected along with much clothing, shoes, and medicine.

In the promotion of Polish heritage and culture, the Lodge has actively participated in Wallingford's Tercentenary Celebration and aided in the construction of a float which appeared in the Bicentennial Parade of Wallingford. In December 1972, the club presented, as a donation to the Wallingford Public Library, nine Polish heritage books which had been translated from Polish to English by Mrs. Marion Coleman of Cheshire.

In March 1971 the Lodge announced the beginning of a scholarship fund for deserving high school graduates. In the first year the fund gave three scholarships for a total of$700. This program has steadily grown over the years, and continues to aid worthy students.

Beyond these endeavors, the Lodge has always been a center for social activities. It has sponsored the traditional Swieconka Supper, the annual Family Picnic, the Harvest Dinner and Dance, Sweetheart Dance, Pulaski Day Sports Night, New Year's Eve Party, and the annual Christmas Party for club members' children. The weekly bingo night also attracts numerous participants. Additional dinners and dances are held at the hall and park throughout the year sponsored by the local Polish Parishes or other Polish cultural organizations.

One of the Lodge's achievements has been the sponsorship of the Mazowsze, the Polish folk dancing group. The group, which is patterned after the original Mazowsze founded in Poland, had its beginning in 1970. For its performances, the group has received considerable praise. They have entertained locally at Gaylord Hospital, in the Bicentennial and Tercentenary celebrations, and at the Wallingford Library. Further, they have appeared in the Pulaski Day Parade in Hartford, the Apple Festival in Southington, and State and National PNA activities.

Besides its social and cultural activities, the Lodge has sponsored numerous sports teams. Over the years, it has sponsored softball and basketball teams in local recreation leagues, and fielded a Polish soccer team which competed in a State-wide league.

Today Lodge 513 has over 572 members, with 498 adults and 74 juveniles comprising its membership. The Lodge maintains its two facilities of the club building on Prince Street and the Polish National Alliance Park on North Plains Industrial Road. Over the past several years numerous improvements were completed to both facilities.

Over the past 100 years the Lodge has been active in fulfilling its intended goals at both the local and state levels. As an early haven for Polish immigrants, the Club has always provided a gathering place for meeting old friends and making new acquaintances. Numerous dances, dinners, picnics, and parties sponsored by the Lodge have taken place over the years. Money raising efforts within the society have continually provided aid to local and national Polish-American cultural groups and also to the Polish Nation during times of difficulty. Activities introducing Polish customs and language to the children of Lodge members have been conducted throughout the life of the club.

On the 100th Anniversary, we remember the good and bad times, the times of socializing and work, and we look forward to the times we shall have together. As. a family, we have all inherited a marvelous organization which is a source of pride and limitless potential. As members of that family, we are obligated to preserve and improve this inheritance for our future family members. Therefore, in an expression of faith in ourselves and Polish pride, we pledge our spirit and efforts to that end.

To all the members and friends of Lodge 513 whose time and effort have contributed to making PNA Lodge 513 an active force in the Wallingford community and a point of Polish Pride, a heart felt thanks!!

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