Prior to the demolition of the West End under urban renewal, many Italian-American families called the neighborhood home. On Thursday, October 10 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., The West End Museum will host its annual Italian Heritage Month Honoree Night recognizing Anthony “Nino” Mondello and Ann Corio for their contributions to the history and culture of Boston’s West End. (Media note: Downloadable images of honorees appear here.) The event is FREE and open to the public; light refreshments will be served.
“Italian immigrants played a major role in contributing to the identity of the West End,” said Duane Lucia, the Museum’s executive director. “Not only did they reside here, but they started businesses, held elected offices, served in the armed forces, and aspired to every opportunity available to American citizens.”
Anthony “Nino” Mondello (1889-1968) was born on Barton Street in the West End to Italian immigrant parents. He learned the printing trade as a young man. At just 25 years old, Mondello founded Bowdoin Print, Inc., a longstanding family business. Throughout his adult life, he worked as a graphic designer in addition to being an artist and musician. In 1951, he helped to found the “Old Time Westenders,” a reunion club known for the pronouncement: “They can destroy the streets and the buildings, but not our memories, love, respect, and friendship for one another.” Mondello passed away in 1968 at Massachusetts General Hospital, just a few blocks from his birthplace.
Ann Corio (1909-1999) will always be linked to Boston as the most popular burlesque performer at the Old Howard Theater in Scollay Square. One of 12 children of Italian immigrants from Naples who settled in Hartford, CT, Corio claimed to have once been a Sunday school teacher. According to legend, it was said, “You can’t graduate from Harvard until you’ve seen Ann Corio,” but as burlesque became more seedy, she moved into more legitimate roles in film and theater. In 1962, she created ‘This Was Burlesque,’ a show that debuted at the Hudson Theater on Broadway after a long off-Broadway run. It ran for nearly 30 years in various forms and was later adapted into a book. At the time of her passing on March 1 in Englewood, NJ, Corio was among the last of the major burlesque talents from that genre’s heyday.
“Thanks to Ann Corio’s book, much of the history of the Howard Athenaeum has been preserved,” Lucia said.