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Brockton, Massachusetts

Brockton currently houses a population of 90 000 but it was the world's main shoe manufacturing center in 1920-1935. Like other industrial towns of the era, it attracted Lithuanians who established their own district Lithuanian Village. It was full of Lithuanian businesses: bakeries, shops, pharmacies. To this day in internet forums, the inhabitants of Brockton remember it as the heart of their city. The center point of life there used to be St. Rocco church (later renamed St. Casimir, established 19th century, rebuilt 1957, 214 Ames St.). Many Lithuanians graduated from its Parish school and nearby Franklin school. Community events (sport matches, gigs, picnics of surrounding Lithuanian parishes) used to be celebrated in Romuva park ("Romuva" means a Baltic pagan temple and is now used as a name for Baltic neo-pagan movement; in the time the park was established however it was likely not seen as a religious but rather as a historical/cultural name as evident by Christians using it).

Monument to those died for Lithuanian freedom next to the former St. Casimir church. Google Street View.

Every Labour Day (First Monday of September) some 10 000 Lithuanians and non-Lithuanians used to come to Thatcher Street to a mass Lithuanian picnic. Such mass of people was used even by local politicians who would have come to tell their agendas. This tradition died out in some 1985 after the sale of alcohol and gambling was banned (there were attempts to reestablish it).

Unfortunately, other elements of Lituanity also decreased over the time. In 2009 the archdiocese of Boston went onto ethnic church closure spree and this included the St. Casimir church, the heart of Brockton's Lithuanians. To the very day of closure Lithuanian priest used to hold Lithuanian mass there. In 1910 this church was the place where the Knights of Lithuania community was established. Under the slogan "For God and Motherland" it unites Lithuanian Americans from many states.

Some objects dear to Lithuanians were moved from St. Casimir church to St. Michael church in Avon, a northern suburb of Brockton (211 North Main Street), where most former parish members now pray at. In its churchyard, the monument to Lithuanian defenders of freedom now stands (with a symbolic cross, sword, and memorial plaques). The St. Casimir furniture was donated to a newly constructed church in Tanzania.

Another churchyard monument For those who died for Lithuanian Freedom has been rebuilt in 2009 at the Our Lady of Sorrows monastery cemetery (as Massachusetts law forbids to remove what has been constructed in a cemetery).

Most of the Brockton's Lithuanian bars and restaurants also closed down (in 2009 there was one bar The Lit left owned by a 75-year-old Lithuanian woman) and the Romuva park feels abandoned. The once safe neighborhood is now inhabited by other ethnic groups and plagued by drugs and crime; more often than not it is referred to as "The Village" alone. Several generations old Lithuanian community however still remains in Brockton; some 2000 (1,4%) of town's inhabitants declared Lithuanian ancestry in 2010 census.

The Lit bar in the Lithuanian Village. The Lithuanian-American community is younger than the Lithuanian nation just as the White America is regarded to be younger than Europe. However, this may seem arguable here: you wouldn't find a bar (or any other private institution) established in 1897 in Lithuania itself because of wars and the Soviet occupation (when everything was nationalized). Google Street View.

Brockton Lithuanian Village (now sometimes called just The Village) still has a playground named after Lithuanian Tukis and Baltic Street (Baltic Sea borders Lithuania and Lithuanian language is part of Baltic language group).

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  1. The Lithuanian Bar or better known as The Lit was NOT owned by a 75 year old woman. It owned by Vincent Kazaikaitis – How do i know this he was my Grandfather and my Mother Aldona Kazaikaitis was the day time bartender when i was growing up in The Village . My Grandfather sold the bar back in the 80’s to retire back in Lithuania where he ended up living the rest of his life and is buried in Mariampol, Lithuania.
    Im sure we can provide all documentations if needed as far as ownership and bill of sale

  2. Hi – in the article you note that Romuvos Parkas in Brockton is now somewhat neglected – what’s there now? Has it been built up at all over the years…? Thanks. Warren

  3. everything my grandparents build and lithuanians friends ,is now gone

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