The Armenian Cultural Foundation is a private library and museum dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of Armenian history, culture and letters. Incorporated in 1945 by Vahan Topalian (1886-1983), a well-known Armenian book collector and by a number of his friends and benefactors, its first home was at 18 Somerset Street — a three story building in Boston. In 1962 the building was taken by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, at which time, John Mirak (1907-2000), an immigrant from Western (Turkish) Armenia and successful businessman in Boston, assisted the Foundation to relocate to its present quarters, a Greek revival mansion in Arlington, Massachusetts. During 1965 the large addition overlooking Mystic Lake, which comprises the main library, was completed under the direction of architect Jerome Bailey Foster.
Vahan Topalian was born in Tigranakert, Turkish Armenia, in 1886. He came alone to the United States as a young boy, attended Mt. Hermon School and then began a lifelong vocation — collecting books, memorabilia and objects of art. Supported by his profession as a tailor, Topalian had already amassed a library by 1920 and spent the rest of his days in that pursuit. He died in May 1983 at the age of 96.