Archives get a home

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday inaugurated the General State Archives, which have finally acquired their first home since they were established in 1914. The building is located among villas and embassy residences in one of Athens’s most exclusive suburbs, on land donated by an industrialist more than 30 years ago. «Prodromos Athanassiades-Bodosakis donated the land in Palaio Psychico in 1972. Bureaucratic difficulties resulted in construction beginning in 1979, with only the frame being built and remaining so until 2000,» Simitis said yesterday. «In 2000 work started and, with regard to the special demands of such a building, it was completed in record time,» he added. The marble-and-glass building has three floors above ground and three below, for a total area of 6,500 square meters. The cost of the building was 6.5 million euros, with another 1 million euros going toward equipping it. The Bodosakis Foundation made a second donation this year to help complete the building. Simitis noted that apart from housing documents that are now spread out over five storage centers and providing researchers with the opportunity to study them, the new building will also have state-of-the-art electronic catalogs. «Our country is acquiring an electronic memory, the memory of its administrative documents. And the center for getting to them is in this building,» Simitis said. Education Minister Petros Efthymiou hailed what he called «an exceptionally important moment… for the memory, the history of the Greek race.» He added, «Because the General State Archives are the record of all the social efforts, all the state functions, all the social activities which condense the progress of the Greek nation from the war of independence to today.» Efthymiou said that the refurbishing of the neoclassical National Library in central Athens would be completed by July 2004. He noted also that a new national library building would be built at a former military base near the Defense Ministry on Mesogeion Avenue, near the Katehaki metro station. The General State Archives building was designed by by architects D. Dakanalis, S. Boubiotis, A. Tsigounis and C. Floros.