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2223 Pine Avenue || Niagara Falls New York || 14301 || 716-284-4058

History and Mission of the Cristoforo Colombo Society
"Societa' Italiana Di Mutuo Soccorso Cristoforo Colombo"

In the early 1900's, Italian immigrants flocked to the Niagara Falls area in search of a better life, for themselves and their families, in the United States. This influx of Italian immigrants infused the Niagara Falls region with Italian culture. This common ancestry, culture and values led eleven Italian immigrants to establish the Cristoforo Colombo Society on July 1, 1903.

United as a fraternal organization and functioning as a means to provide mutual aid to its members, the Cristoforo Colombo Society evolved as a way for Italians to take care of one another in the New World. In addition to mutual aid, the Society sought to promote social and fraternal virtues in the community, and provide support to programs that aided the impoverished and disadvantaged. Proud of their adopted homeland, the members of the Society also worked to better understand and teach their community devotion to the principles on which the United States was founded.

In the early days, the members met in each other's basements, often organizing family picnics during the summer. Though they lacked an official meeting place, they were quietly leaving an indelible mark on the community and culture of the Niagara Falls area. In fact, many of the eleven founding members were instrumental in the founding of Saint Joseph's Church on Pine Avenue.

The histories of Pine Avenue and the Cristoforo Colombo Society are closely intertwined. In the decades that followed, the Society had several different meeting locations, finally establish headquarters in the Hippodrome Hall in 1940. In an effort to preserve the culture of its members, Society meetings were held entirely in Italian during this time. Following the Hippodrome location, the Society was able to purchase an old church at 2223 Pine Avenue in 1950, where they met for the next twenty years.

The Great Depression, a trying time for everyone, proved to be a testament to the strength of the Cristoforo Colombo Society. Its policy of mutual aid, specifically its established death benefit, provided relief to members' families during the most dire of circumstances. During the late 19605 and early 19705, membership in the Society flourished. At one point, membership reached nearly 600 men forcing many of the members to correspond through letters. It was following the last major wave of Italian immigration, around 1970, that the Cristoforo Colombo Society secured its current meeting location, complete with a bar for members and a bingo hall.

Today, the Cristoforo Colombo Society continues to keep the Italian culture and tradition a lie in the Niagara Falls area. Volunteers remain its lifeblood as proceeds from bingo games help to fund the society. Its members still gather at the meeting hall to watch soccer on the widescreen TV, play traditional Italian card games such as Briscola, Resette and -Scala Quaranta, and celebrate their common Italian heritage.

The Society is also still active in community affairs; it sponsors the local bocce league and annually awards the Columbian Award to person of Italian descent for distinguished service to the community.

Founding Members: Enrico Caso, Salvatore Caterina di Antonio, Salvatore Caterina di Gaetano, Giuseppe Cone, Roccantonio D' Aloise, Vicenzo D' Aloise, Pantano Domenico, Gregorio Ferretto, Simone Fioritta, Carmine Pagliuca, Pietro Vodolo.

Past Presidents (** denotes deceased):
1. ** Enrico Caso, 2. ** Salvatore Caterina, 3. ** Savino Nanula, 4. ** Joseph D'Amato, 5. ** Vincent Importune, 6. ** William Montagna, 7. ** Francesco Baldassarre, 8. ** Carmelo Borgese, 9. ** Nicholas Gabriel, 10.** Peter Spallino, 11.** Samuel Scaletta, 12.** Sebastian Passanese, 13. Ignazio 'Nash' Ognibene, 14.** Joseph Gualtieri, 15.** Eugene Pucci, 16.** Arthur Agnello, 17.** Vincenzo D'Amico, 18. Anthony Forgione, 19. Tancredi 'Rico' Bevilacqua, 20. Salvatore Ognibene, 21. **Louis J. Paonessa, 22. Ralph F. Aversa, 23. Alfredo Rottaris, 24. Alfred Ligammari (President for 8 consecutive years) 25. Joseph T. Schiro, Jr.  26. Ernest Lucantonio