CAMBODIAN NEIGHBORHOOD WALKING TOUR

1.JFK Plaza,50 Arcand Drive
JFK Plaza, adjacent to City Hall and the John F. Kennedy Civic Center, 
is the site of civic and community ceremonies, festivals, dedications, 
and farmers' markets. Each spring the Cambodian community 
celebrates its largest annual event, the New Year, at JFK Plaza. The 
New Year celebration includes the raising of the Cambodian flag, 
alongside the American flag, prayers to welcome the new angels, 
traditional music, dance, games, and food brought by local families. 
The ceremony emphasizes the Buddhist faith, with a Buddhist altar 
constructed on the plaza. In honor of their ancestors, Cambodian 
community members offer food to Buddhist monks. Cambodian New 
Year is a time for visiting among family and friends, old and new. In 
recent years, expanded New Year's celebrations include activities at the 
Trairatanaran Temple in North Chelmsford (see no. 12).

2.Southeast Asian Restaurant, 343 Market Street
       Oriental Pearl Restaurant, 350-352 Market Street
Located at one of the gateways to the Acre neighborhood, the 
Southeast Asian Restaurant and the Oriental Pearl are among the 
most popular Southeast Asian restaurants in Lowell. Southeast 
Asian Restaurant was the first food establishment of its kind in 
Lowell, opened in 1985 and run by its current owners, Joseph and
Chanthip Antonaccio. Mr. Antonaccio first encountered Southeast 
Asian food in 1965, when stationed in Thailand for the American air 
force. Delighting in the food of Thai open air markets, Antonaccio 
wrote down recipes in the hopes of making these foods himself 
when he returned home. Fifteen years later, Antonaccio and his
Laotian born wife, Chanthip Antonaccio, began a Southeast Asian 
food business of their own, serving Cambodian, Thai, Laotian, and 
Vietnamese newcomers to America. They first imported Asian foods 
from New York City to Connecticut, then established Southeast Asian 
groceries throughout southern New England, and finally, opened 
Southeast Asian Restaurant. The Oriental Pearl, located across the 
street from Southeast Asian Restaurant, also opened in the 1980s, 
when a Vietnamese family renovated what was then a decrepid 
building, once a vital dance hall and restaurant serving the Greek 
and Irish communities of the area. Today, the Oriental Pearl 
Restaurant is owned by Cambodians and features a diverse menu
of Cambodian, Thai, and Chinese cuisine.
 
3.Monoram Park, Cross Street (corner of Marion Street)
For generations, this urban playground has been a significant site 
for Lowell's inner city children and teenagers. Park furnishings 
reflect the cultural preferences of the Acre's most recent immigrants, 
the Southeast Asians. Today, a tiled mosaic frieze of a Brahma and 
stone chess tables replace leap frog and swing sets once used by 
children of Irish, Greek, and Puerto Rican descent. Once called 
Cross Street Park by older immigrants, this playground is now 
renamed Monoram, meaning harmony in Khmer, the language of 
Cambodia. Organized by the Coalition for a Better Acre, a community 
development corporation serving the Acre neighborhood, Monoram 
Park, dedicated in 1991, provides Cambodian children and teens 
with familiar surroundings in which to socialize and play.

4.St. Patrick Church, Suffolk Street
Since 1831, St. Patrick Catholic Church has stood tall in the heart 
of the Acre neighborhood. Today, in addition to serving Irish and 
French parishioners, the church offers native language services to 
small communities of Cambodian and Vietnamese Catholics. To 
Lowell's Cambodian community, St. Patrick's Church represents even 
more than just an invitation to practice Catholicism. It is the home 
of An Ros, Americas first Cambodian deacon, only the second in the 
world. St. Patrick's Parish School has a student body that is primarily 
Asian. The church is also the site of civic debate and discussion, 
allowing Southeast Asians to address and resolve important neighbor-
hood issues. It served as the first home of the St. Julie Asian 
Center, (now located in the Lower Highlands), offering instruction
 in English, child care, American citizenship, nutrition, and health 
and safety. For reasons beyond religion, St. Patrick's is an institu-
tional anchor within an often changing neighborhood landscape.

5. Golden Swan Restaurant, 21-27 Adams Street
The Golden Swan – also  called "La Lune" (The Moon) – is located 
at another entrance point to the Acre neighborhood. It is the largest
and most popular function hall for Lowell's Cambodian community, 
hosting graduations, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, weekend
dances, concerts arranged by private promoters, and other large 
social events. In Cambodia, special events such as weddings, most 
often take place at home. Today, in Lowell, the pace and scale of 
urban life makes it difficult to hold large gatherings at home. A 
typical reception at the Golden Swan, for about two hundred people, 
begins with a feast of "bird's nest" platter (consisting of fried 
taro in the shape of a bowl filled with seafood and Southeast 
Asian vegetables), Cambodian fondue, and continues with rice 
and noodles with fish, beef, or chicken. After the meal, some tables
are moved aside to create a dance floor, with people dancing to 
both traditional Cambodian music and contemporary popular 
songs. One of the most favored dances is the madizon, an elegant 
group dance first introduced to Cambodians by early twentieth-
century French colonists.

6. Site of First Buddhist Temple in Lowell,
       20 North Franklin Court
To Lowell's earliest Cambodian refugees, driven from their war-
ravaged country, the need for a Buddhist temple was second only 
to the need for food and shelter. In the early 1980's, a Cambodian 
community of approximately 150 people established its first temple 
in Lowell, on the third floor of a three story red wooden tenement. 
Although it did not resemble the spectacular Buddhist architecture 
of the Cambodian homeland, this temple served the spiritual and 
emotional needs of the city's growing immigrant community. Devout 
members of the temple decorated the interior with a colorful shrine 
to Buddha, including copper statues. (In Cambodia, Buddha statues 
are often made of gold). Monks, who came to Lowell from Thailand, 
presided over temple life. Here the community prayed for peace in 
Cambodia, celebrated sacred holidays, shared traditional food, and 
planned for its future. Today, the temple at 20 North Franklin Court 
no longer exists. Trairatanaran Temple, a new, larger, and more per-
manent temple has been established in nearby North Chelmsford. 
(See no. 12 on this map). Current plans for the now empty plot of land 
at 20 N. Franklin Court include the creation of a community garden.