124 High Street

Business Types
  Dressmaker
  School
Ethnicities
  Armenian
Story
More data
Sirhoopy Bogossian business data
Sirhoopy Bogossian personal data
Paul Bogossian business data
Paul Bogossian personal data
Bagdassar Sookikian combined data

While these buildings have always served as residences, the part closest to High Street also served as a dressmaking shop and school run by an Armenian woman immigrant in 1918-19. Sirpoohy Bogossian was born in 1887 in Turkish Armenia and came to the United States at the age of 18. She quickly met and married Bagdassar Sookikian, quite likely an arranged marriage. She had arrived in the U.S. in New York on February 5, 1906 and the wedding took place in Boston on February 7.

Her groom had arrived about the turn of the century and first appears living in clip art of align bakerLowell in 1904 above a grocery store at 125 Charles Street. Bagdassar worked there for sixteen years as a baker for fellow countryman Avedis Torigian.

In 1906 he moved briefly to Boston, again working at a bakery, likely spending just enough time in Boston to establish residence for the marriage. After the wedding, he moved back to Lowell with his bride to 48 Elm Street, a couple blocks from Torigian’s store, where they remained for ten years before moving to the address on High Street. Matching their quickness in getting married, the Sookikians had two daughters, Arax and Armenuhy, and a son, Vasha, in 1907, 1908, and 1909.

Picture of 124 High Street

This 2-story wood-frame gable-roof building, with its gable front facing High Street was built ca. 1860 and contains Greek Revival elements.  At the rear is a 2-story wood-frame gable roof building, similarly constructed with Greek Revival elements.

Clip art of a tailor

Sirhoopy was probably the first of her family to arrive in Lowell, Lowell, followed by her mother, Mariam (Arifian) Bogossian in 1909 (traveling alone). She lived with them on Elm Street in 1910. A younger brother, Paul Ardaches Bogossian, arrived most likely in 1909. He first appears in Lowell in 1910, living on Elm Street with the rest of the family, working as a tailor.

In 1912, Paul established the Paul Bogossian Tailor Shop on 25 Palmer Street. The next year, Sirhoopy, in spite of having three children under six and two wage earners in the house (her husband and her brother), joined her brother in his tailor shop. They called themselves Bogossian and Sookikian Tailors and relocated to 225 Gorham Street.

Perhaps Sirhoopy learned from Paul what she needed to know in a year or, more likely, she decided to concentrate on women’s clothes. For whatever reason, they went their separate ways the following year, Paul keeping the Gorham Street location and Sirhoopy opening a dressmaker’s shop a few blocks away at 147 Central Street. Paul remained living with the family, so relations were apparently still good.

 

Clip art of a dressmaker

Sirhoopy ran her dressmaker’s shop for about three and half years, being successful enough to have several employees and, by 1917, was changing the emphasis of her business. After she did some advertising (see the figure above), a local newspaper interviewed her and tells the story this way: City Business Directory ad for Sookikian School of Designing and Cutting
  Mrs. S. Sookikian, who conducts ladies’ dressmaking parlors at Room 218-220 in the Bradley Building, enjoys an enviable reputation among many of the best-dressed women in Lowell. Of excellent taste herself, she has the faculty of obtaining the best possible effect from every garment that she turns out. She has a force of expert cutters and fitters and her work has invariably given the highest satisfaction. She also conducts a popular school of cutting and dressmaking in conjunction with her business.  

In late 1917 or in 1918 the Sookikians moved to 124 High Street, renting part of a larger house. Sirpoohy also relocated her business to this address, although it’s unclear whether she had anyone still working for her or whether she still did dressmaking as such. Her school continued through 1919 but by 1920 she had left the business world and was listed only as living with her husband in the city directory, not employed outside the house.

In the meantime, her husband may have been working two jobs. In 1917 he declared to the Lowell World War I Draft Board that he was a baker; in the City Directory he was listed twice that same year, with different spellings of his name, as a baker and as a textile operative. The City Directory has him still baking in 1918 and 1919 but in 1920 he told them he was working in the Massachusetts Cotton Mills, the same as what he told the Census Bureau. With his wife’s business ending, the family was clearly unsettled.

With World War I was an instigator of many changes so it’s not surprising that Paul Bogossian changed careers at this time. He had continued as a tailor until 1917 when he became a chauffeur for the Newton Manufacturing Company. He may have stretched the truth a bit when he told the Lowell World War I Draft Board that he was the sole support of his mother and sister, that he worked for an ammunition company, and that he was requesting a draft exemption because he had a leg injury for the time he was a volunteer in the Armenian Army. The next year he was active in real estate and was apparently successful since he was still at it twelve years later.

The Sookikians left Lowell in 1921 and never returned. After the Sookikians departure, the 124 High Street address was strictly a residence. In 1930, Bagdassar, Sirpoohy, and their son Victor were in Brooklyn, New York, with Bagdassar working as a painter. Paul Bogossian also moved to New York, having left Lowell in 1922. He had married an Armenian immigrant and in 1930 had his wife, three children under 8 years old, and his mother, Mariam, living with him.

By 1952 Bagdassar was probably retired (he was 70) but he and Sirpoohy took a trip to Armenia. On returning home, they headed to Brighton, Massachusetts. After Sirpoohy died (probably 1963), Bagdassar moved in with his son Victor in Waltham, Massachusetts and died there in 1965.


Sticking close to home

All locations mentioned are shown on the map below and are fairly close together. The distance from P to H is less than 1/2 mile and from M to E is 0.6 miles. Immigrants with few resources usually walk to work.

Map showing location of jobs and residences for the people in this story.

B.   9 Bent’s Court: Boarding house of Bagdassar in 1905.

Ch. 123-125 Charles Street. Avedis Torigian’s grocery store at 125, where Bagdassar worked 1904-1920. Residence upstairs at 123 for Bagdassar 1904-1905 and even before that for his brother Karnig Sookikian 1903-1909.

C1. 147-175 Central Street. “The Bradley Block”. Offices for Sirhoopy 1914-1917 and Paul 1918-1921.

C3. 386 Central Street. Boarding house for Karnig 1916-1917.

E.   48 Elm Street/1 Elm Place. Residence of Bagdassar and Sirhoopy 1907-1917, Karnig 1910-1913.

 

G.   225 Gorham Street. Tailor shop of Paul, 1913-1915; joined by Sirhoopy in 1914 when it was Bogossian & Sookikian Tailors.

H.   124 High Street. Home for Bagdassar and Sirhoopy 1917-1920 and Sookikian School 1918-1919.

M.   Massachusetts Cotton Mills, workplace for Bagdassar in 1920 (and probably 1917-1919).

P.   25 Palmer Street, tailor shop of Paul, 1912.

8.   8 Merrimack Street, tailor shop of Paul, 1916.