Contributions of Italian Immigrants to Iconic American Architecture Featured in Upcoming Exhibit

“Italian Builders, Artisans, and Trades” Offers a Fresh Look into the History and Compelling Stories Behind Mt. Rushmore, Kensico Dam, Croton Aqueduct and more... October 13 – November 23, 2011
Crew of Stone Masons at Croton Dam - Sept. 1989
Crew of Stone Masons at Croton Dam - Sept. 1989
Oct. 6, 2011 - PRLog -- (Tuckahoe, NY) – In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the majority of Italian immigrants to New York were, by trade, laborers, carpenters, builders, and masons. Thousands helped shape the actual ‘look’ of America as they were responsible for the construction of many iconic examples of American infrastructure, buildings and monuments. “Unfortunately, many did not receive recognition for these feats,” says Maria Masciotti, Executive Director of the Westchester Italian Cultural Center. “For example, Luigi Del Bianco was actually the chief carver of Mt. Rushmore, but there is no mention of him in history books. In fairness, his and many other stories need to be told.”

This fall, the Westchester Italian Cultural Center ( plans to do just that when it presents Italian Builders, Artisans, and Trades, an exhibit dedicated to the Italian immigrants' contributions to major construction projects, primarily in Westchester County and New York City, and also throughout the United States. The exhibit will be on display from October 13 – November 23 at the Cultural Center, located at Depot Square in Tuckahoe, New York in the Generoso Pope Foundation building. Featured are photographs, manifests, tools, statues, and original pieces of stone, as well as the compelling stories themselves. Documents illustrate the numbers and qualifications of the Italian workers, as well as chronicle the working conditions and health concerns that plagued the laborers. Videos, books and testimonials further illuminate the plight of the workers and the ways in which they overcame their obstacles. “Their accomplishments include paving thousands of miles of streets and highways, the westward expansion of the transcontinental railroad, the construction of buildings, including factories, skyscrapers and the sculpting of many statues and monuments throughout America,” Ms. Masciotti points out.

According to Carl E. Petrillo, President and CEO of Yonkers Contracting Company, Inc., the Major Benefactor of Italian Builders, Artisans, and Trades: “This fascinating show celebrates the mostly unrecognized national accomplishments and local achievements of these gifted and dedicated Italian tradesmen that paved the way for many major construction companies today. We are delighted to be a major part of this important exhibit at the Westchester Italian Cultural Center.”

The four main themes of the exhibit are: Local Public Works and Quarries including Kensico Dam; Croton Aqueduct; Tuckahoe Marble; Silver Lake Quarry; and Cranberry Lake Quarry; National Monuments and Artists including the Piccirilli Brothers - carvers of the Lincoln Memorial, Luigi Del Bianco - master carver of Mt. Rushmore, Terrazieri and Mosaics; Families with long traditions of construction in the Metropolitan New York Area; and Trade Unions, highlighting the legacy and work ethic handed down through generations.

The major benefactor of Italian Builders, Artisans and Trades is Yonkers Contracting Company. Major sponsors include: Apogee Translite, Inc., Laborers’ International 235, Paraco Gas Corp., and the Generoso Pope Foundation, with content support from ArtsWestchester, Gregg Wyatt, Mount Pleasant Historical Society, Croton Historical Society, Tuckahoe Historical Society, and Eastchester Historical Society. "This is one of the most suitable and honorable ways to showcase my grandfather's story and those of the many Italian-Americans who made significant contributions to this country,” said Lou Del Bianco, grandson of Mt. Rushmore chief carver Luigi Del Bianco. “As a Westchester resident and Italian immigrant, my grandfather is finally getting his rightful place in our county's history."  

In conjunction with the show, the Cultural Center has planned the following events:

Special Lecture: The History of the Italian Immigration Labor
Wednesday, October 12, 6:30 pm
The speakers are the Center’s Professor-in-Residence Antonio Rutigliano, of New York University and Josephine DeCaro, an adjunct lecturer at Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York. The lecture is free for members, $10 for non-members.  Registration is required.

Intimate Conversations with Contemporary Authors: Images of America, Mount Pleasant
Wednesday, October 19, 2:00 pm
A history of Mount Pleasant and the lost village of Kensico, and the construction of the Kensico Dam presented by George and Claudine Waterbury and Bert Ruiz. This program is presented free to all; registration is required.

Film: The Lost Village of Kensico and the Building of the Kensico Dam
Friday, October 21, 6:30 pm
This non-commercial documentary produced by Barbara Massi and George Waterbury recounts the history of the Village of Kensico in Westchester County, which no longer exists.  Registration is required – members: $10, non-members: $20.

Intimate Conversations with Contemporary Authors: Stoneco: The Life and Times of Antonio DiDomizio
Wednesday, November 2, 2:00 pm
Author John DiDomizio, grandson of a quarryman, will discuss his upcoming book Stoneco: The Life and Times of Antonio DiDomizio and will focus on the life of the Italian community during early 1900s at the stone quarry in Dutchess County known as Stoneco. This program is free of charge; registration is required.

The Piccirilli Brothers: Freeing the Angel from the Stone
Friday, November 4, 6:30 pm
A multimedia presentation by Eleanor and Jeff Koffler, authors of Freeing the Angel from the Stone, a comprehensive guide book of the major sculptures of the Piccirilli Brothers in New York City. Please register and pay in advance – members: $10, non-members: $20.

Family Program: In the Shadow of the Mountain
Saturday, November 5, 2:00 pm
Storyteller Lou Del Bianco tells the story of his grandfather, Luigi Del Bianco, and his unique contribution to the carving of our nation’s greatest memorial, Mount Rushmore. Suggested for ages 4 and up. The cost for members: Children $10, Adults $20, and for non-members: Children $15, Adults $25.

Intimate Conversations with Contemporary Authors: An American Trilogy
Wednesday, December 7, 2:00 pm
Author William Pisani will discuss his latest novel, An American Trilogy, which reflects his experiences growing up in a neighborhood of Italian-and Irish-Americans during the 1950s and 60s. This program is free of charge; registration is required.

Italian Builders, Artisans, and Trades will be on view Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 4pm; and Saturday 10am – 1pm (hours subject to change). Suggested donation is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $5 for children to age 18. All proceeds benefit the language, art, music, and cultural programs at the Westchester Italian Cultural Center, a not-for-profit organization. Guided educational tours are available for classroom and group visits. For more information about the exhibit or programs, please call (914) 771-8700 or visit
About the Westchester Italian Cultural Center
The Westchester Italian Cultural Center (, located in the Generoso Pope Foundation building at Depot Square in Tuckahoe, NY, preserves, promotes and celebrates the rich heritage of classic and contemporary Italian culture by encouraging an appreciation of the Italian language, arts and letters, history, cuisine and commerce through educational programs, exhibits and events. The Cultural Center is open to people of all cultures, and encourages the community and members to take advantage of the diverse events and programs presented throughout the year. The Center provides programs that celebrate Italian culture for people of all ages, all ethnicities, and from all walks of life. In the spirit of Generoso Pope, the Center will continue to provide quality programming, unique educational courses, and engaging ways to keep Italian culture alive for now and for generations to come. For more information about the Center’s programs or to become a member, please call (914) 771-8700 or email
Source:Jennifer Galluzzo
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Tags:Art, Exhibit, Architecture, Mount Rushmore, Westchester Italian Cultural Center, Immigrant, Builders, Artisans, Trades
Industry:Arts, Architecture, Event
Location:New York - United States
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