Members of the three Armenian Churches in Rhode Island informally met and determined that it was necessary to erect a memorial dedicated to the Armenian Martyrs of 1915. These churches are Saints Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Apostolic Church
, Armenian Evangelical Church
(formerly Euphrates Evangelical Church), and Saint Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church
A Committee consisting of members from the three Churches was formed. The location of this historical monument was important. The North Burial Ground Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island was chosen. It is the second oldest cemetery in the country.
On December 5, 1974, the Providence City Council unanimously authorized the Mayor of the City of Providence to lease a tract of land to the Armenian Martyrs' Memorial Committee at the North Burial Ground site for the purpose of a perpetual memorial.
On Sunday, April 27, 1975, a ground-breaking ceremony was performed at the North Burial Ground site with Armenian clergy, deacons, acolytes, choir members and the Armenian community bearing witness.
The following year, on April 21, 1976, a most important event took place in the Office of His Excellency, the Mayor of the City of Providence, the Honorable Vincent A Cianci. The members of the Armenian Martyrs' Memorial Committee and the three Armenian Churches witnessed the lease signing ceremony. Also, on this date the Armenian Martyrs' Committee became a nonprofit organization and with its chartered by-laws was incorporated in the State of Rhode Island.
The monument Committee sought different architect plans for a pavilion shaped edifice. Four proposals were received depicting phases of life and history of the Armenian people. The contract for the construction of the monument was awarded to Rock of Ages of Barre, Vermont.
On April 24, 1977, the solemn dedication of the Armenian Martyrs' Memorial took place. Each year, on the first Sunday following April 24, the Committee, along with the three churches, conducts a service to perpetuate the memories of those who lost their lives in the Genocide of 1915.
The monument, designed by the nine members of the monument Committee, is of the early Byzantine era. The cross atop the cupola is typical of the Armenian cross and the oval cupola with six columns set on a square base is typical of the 17th century architecture. Set in this unusual formation of two pilasters that support the cupola is the intricately carved tableau consisting of six khatchkars (cross stones). In early times, khatchkars were small-sized memorial cruciform stones and predominantly of Armenian influence. A similar khatchkar tableau appears in the Martyrs' Monument in Etchmiadzin, Armenia.
There are two smaller rectangular shaped monuments of western style that flank on each side of the center monument. One inscription is in English while the other is in Armenian. The English translation is:
"From this faith no one can shake us: neither angels nor men, neither sword nor fire, nor water nor any blow however bitter it be."
Battle of Avarair - 451 AD