In 1846, the news of James Marshall’s gold discovery in California travelled all the way to Romania, where, in 1848, fifteen adventurers boarded a ship in the Constantza harbor headed for the “promised land”. Unfortunately, due to bad weather conditions, the ship sunk by the coast of Baja California, west of Mexico, with just a handful of survivors.
In 1853, following the U.S. Congress approval for the construction of the Santa Fe railroad, many Romanians came in from the east coast and even from the motherland helping with the construction. Railroad records show that Jon Gurghiu held the position of construction team supervisor. Between 1900 and 1920 a number of Romanian families were settling in the Greater Los Angeles area, such as The Cretu family (Los Angeles) and the Axentys (Long Beach) in 1906, or the Pascus and Cosmas (Los Angeles) in 1912.
The scarce work and the frequency of work related accidents, made the families mentioned above to join another 14 families for the foundation of a Cultural and Aid ethnic society, named “Viitorul Roman”, on the 18th of April, 1926, following the example of the Romanian Societies established on the East coast and under the rule of the Union and League of the Romanian-American Societies of Cleveland, Ohio. Two years later the Society was incorporated in the City of Los Angeles. For the next 20 years, the Society, itself a member of the Union & League, held meetings at members’ residences. In 1939 members of the society decided to set up a fund for the construction of a Romanian Orthodox Church. In 1946 they purchased a church on Verdugo Road, in Glassel Park , South-East of Glendale, which was thereafter named The Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church. Until 1997 the Society was headquartered in the offices adjacent to the church.
Ever since its first years of existence, the Society participated to the foundation of the Romanian Chamber of The University of Pittsburgh and the erection of the Avram Iancu (Romanian revolutionary) monument in New York City. During the Second World War, Viitorul Roman joined other Romanian societies in sending in substantial funds for the families of war victims; the Sibiu (Romania) Red Cross received money, medicines and clothes for those fighting in the battlefields. In 1968, following the extensive floods in Romania, the Society sent over food, medicines, clothes and money to the families in the disaster areas. A similar effort, made jointly with the Holy Trinity Church and estimated at over $30,000, was made in 1977 after a 7.6 earthquake produced vast damages.
During the Cold War years, Viitorul Roman helped the political refugees held in Italy’s and Austria’s refugee camps. After 1989 financial help was delivered to families struck by the casualties of the revolution which toppled the communist regime. Visiting members in Romania’s orphanages and asylums brought over vitamins, syringes, diapers, medicines and money. One container, valued at $28,000, was sent in May, 1999, with the participation of the “Hearts For Romania” Foundation to five orphanages in Craiova.
Throughout the years Viitorul Roman awarded several scholarships to merituous Romanian students in the Los Angeles area. In 1999, EDSA Corporation, a top leader in computer software, donated world class software of one million dollars list price to Viitorul Roman, which, in turn, distributed it to twelve universities in Romania. The award, which took place in Bucharest at the Romanian Cultural Foundation, was attended by members of the American Embassy, Congressmen, Academia, artists and mass-media. The society was the host of the National Convention of the Union and League of the Romanian Societies of America and of the second conference of the Romanian American Business Network in August-September 2000.
In the past 20 years Viitorul Roman excelled in organizing cultural activities in the Los Angeles area: dozens of renowned artists from Romania, politicians, public figures and members of the Romanian royal family, including King Michael, Queen Anne, Princesses Irina and Sofia were present at the Society’s events.
Viitorul Roman Society is dedicated to the perpetuation of the Romanian culture in Southern California.