For the eighth consecutive year, The West End Museum marks Italian Heritage Month by recognizing individuals of Italian descent for their contributions to preserving the culture of the West End and its rich immigrant history. Italian Heritage Month Honoree Night takes place on Tuesday, October 3 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Honoree presentations will be followed by a reception with light refreshments. The event is FREE and open to the public.
Prior to the demolition of Boston’s West End during urban renewal, many Italian-American families called the neighborhood home. The Museum celebrates this former little piece of Italy along with old and new residents of Italian descent. The 2017 Italian Heritage Month honorees are Bruno Roberto and Gloria Ganno.
Bruno Roberto (1937-2014) was born in the old West End to Rose and Vincent Roberto, both Italian immigrants. He grew up on Lowell Street with his brother, Jerry, and later served in Korea with the U.S. Air Force. Early in his working life, Roberto was a laborer. Some years on, he became a bartender and night club manager. As an early Board member, the organizer of the West End Reunion Annual Dinner Dance and a greeter at the front desk, Roberto helped The West End Museum establish itself in the community and grow over time. A caring and welcoming man, he encompassed the best of the old neighborhood and is remembered fondly for his ease engaging with everyone he encountered—always ready to share a story, offer a local tip or help in some other way. Roberto was a larger than life character who made a significant impact on the evolution of The West End Museum.
Gloria Ganno (b. 1938) is a lifelong resident of Boston who grew up in the New York Streets, a neighborhood in Boston’s South End. As a teenager, Ganno and her family were forced out when the Boston Housing Authority targeted the area for the city’s first urban renewal project. Half Italian and half Lebanese, Ganno symbolizes her community’s melting pot of families. She has great memories of the sights, smells and tastes of Italian, Jewish and other ethnic foods made and sold in the neighborhoods’ bakeries and stores, much like in the old West End. After retiring, she began writing about Boston’s historic events, working in particular to preserve the memory of the New York Streets. Ganno’s interest in the city’s past and urban renewal legacy brought her to The West End Museum where she has become a valued supporter and volunteer—serving as a member of the Advisory Board, co-curating an exhibit about her childhood home and welcoming visitors.
These individuals represent the best of the spirit of the old West End and of Italian-American culture. The West End Museum is proud to honor them.