The “Black Sea Pontiac Association of Naoussa” is located in the beautiful historic and heroic town of Naoussa. It was by a decision of the Court of Veroia on April 11, 1927, with the name “Educational Association of Naoussa – Kyriakides”.
The purpose of the establishment of the Association in accordance with its charter, is “... the establishment of a Reading Room and a Library in Naoussa aiming at the moral and spiritual growth of its members” (2nd Article), and that “the entry at the Reading room and the use of books and newspapers and magazines is free for all ...” (40th Article). For the realization of this objective, as stated in the 3rd article, “... the Association undertakes the collection and placement in the Library of the Tuition of books transferred from the tutorial establishment of Argyroupolis by the people from Argyroupolis...”.
Originally, the library of the Educational Association was housed in the “former Turkish Mosque of Naoussa”, which was granted to the Association by decision of the Local Advisory Council of the Exchange Office of Veroia, and remained there until 1933. At the time, the number of books reached approximately 5,000 volumes. With the collapse of the mosque in 1933, the Association suspended its operation and books were transferred to the basement of a newly-built school, where Ant. Sigalas, Professor of Papyrology and paleography, who visited the library in 1929, finds and studies them in 1939. He reports that he only found 968 printed volumes, 70 manuscripts, a Turkish decree and 5 codecs, while making reference to “precious religious icons and other relics”. Under the care of the then Mayor of Naoussa Kokkinos, the books were transported to the building of the Public Library until 1949, the year in which Naoussa was burnt down, and had to be carried back to the basement of the Town Hall until 1964.
In 1959, the Association is re-established under the name “Black Pontiac Association of Naoussa – National Library of Argyroupolis ‘Kyriakides’”. The remaining books were passed on to the Association, but the number had fallen dramatically. Only 796 volumes were left! According to testimonies, when the people from Argyroupolis forced to leave their territory, of the 5 animals available to each of the 60 families, 3-4 were loaded with books and sacred objects! Thus, one can imagine how great the number of books was originally transferred from Pontus and how many have remained today. Also, the most important sacred objects of the people from Argyroupolis are preserved and exhibited at the Benaki Museum in Athens.
Today, these books, finally 972 in number, are stored in the three-storey building of The Black Sea (Pontiac) Association of Naoussa (at 30 Hadzigrigoriadis Street), which was created by the contributions from members and friends as well as by the personal work of Pontiac refugees in the region. It was inaugurated in 1975. Specialized crew worked for the preservation of books, which are kept in a specially designed area. The oldest printed book was printed in Italy, in the printing house of Aldus Manutius, in 1446. It is worth noting that most books contain handwritten remembrances.
Today, in the Library of Black Sea Pontiac Association (which is located on the 2nd floor of the building owned by the Association), except from the incunabulars, there are approximately 15,000 volumes of newer books, magazines, newspapers, etc., in a hall / reading room of 140 m2, where there are computers to better serve the readers of the Library.
Apart from the Library though, the Black Sea Association operates departments for learning traditional dances, choir, Pontic lyra, painting, classical dance, Pilates and fitness, chess and drama workshop. The operation and maintenance costs are covered by donations and membership fees. There are approximately 600 members today.
The heads of departments are:
- Traditional Dances: Pavlidou Maria, Pavlidis Pavlos.
- Instruction of the Pontian Lyra: Veroiotis Theodore.
- Painting: Kosmidou Hara.
- Classical Dance: Germanou Elina, Bratsi Christina.
- Chess: Gkaltsian Valerios.
- Theatre: Tomtsi Katerina.
- Gymnastics: Spanou Vaso.
The main objectives of the Association are digitizing old prints and manuscripts, which arrived with much trouble in Naoussa from Argyroupoli, as well as an effort for their restoration and maintenance. The immediate plans of the Black Sea Association includes the organization of the 3rd World Congress of the people from Argyroupolis, having as an object the education in Argyroupolis.
The Association is open daily from 17:00 to 21:00 while, in the morning, it usually operates to serve schools by appointment in the following phone numbers: 23320-29650 and 23320-22577.
(Source: I. Ziogas (Ed.), E.M.I.P.E Chronicles, Vol. 12, January-March 2011)