The Polish American Home is preparing to celebrate its 90th anniversary on November 25. The home, on 27 West 22nd Street, is a community meeting place for Polish residents and immigrants. Since the 1980s, when Poland was under control of the Soviet Union, Polish people, who immigrated to the United States, found the Polish American Home to be a valuable resource for housing and networking. Various local Polish businesses have sprung up since then, such as bakeries, delis, and travel agencies.
Now, the Polish American Home, complete with its banquet hall and bar, is rented out for various community events, inside and outside the Polish community.
“We were founded for the purpose of maintaining close culture,” said Ryszard Romelczyk, former president of the Polish-American club and chairman of the Pulaski Parade Committee. “It’s so that people can have a social club, a home base, a place to organize, and have fun.”
The home hosts annual New Year’s Eve parties, dance recitals, an Italian night fundraiser for the Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation, a Polish Constitution Day celebration in May, and most recently, the Pulaski Parade celebration. Every year, a large contingent of Polish-Americans from Bayonne march in the parade, such as former Mayor Richard Rutkowski.
“I met my wife over there,” said Leonard Bajor, another former president of the Polish American Association, who was organizing the community center where kids held dances or took art classes at the time. “I needed an art teacher, and I heard about my wife, Dianne,” Bajor said. “I didn’t know her at the time, but I knew that she was an artist. I invited her to come take a look with our program, and she liked it and eventually got married.”
“The Polish American Home is so that people can have a social club, a home base, a place to organize, and have fun.” – Ryszard Romelczyk
Bayonne has historically welcomed various community homes, such as the former Ukrainian home on Avenue E, which is now a Protestant church in the Filipino-American community. Various Italian and Irish organizations have come and gone over the years, but many remain.
“It’s a great thing for them to have made it that far,” said Joe Ryan, who works with the Bayonne Historical Preservation Committee and is spokesperson for the city. “The Polish community has been here for a long time but had new waves of immigrants adding to its hub since the 1980s.”
Bayonne‘s Polish American Home is one of the last community homes in the area. Jersey City once had four Polish-American homes. Today, those are gone.
“The home maintains the community,” Romelczyk said. “Over the years people have come and gone. They move out, and they come back. The Polish American home is still there.”
The 90th Anniversary celebration, on November 25, will be on its second-floor Polonaise Room. The celebration will include dinner, dancing, and a cocktail hour. Tickets are $50. For more information, call the Polish American Home at (201) 339-8572.
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.