|Founded April 26, 1920
The idea for founding the Italian Club (originally
the Italian Commercial Club) was born at a Christmas party
at the home of the late Nicola Paolella in 1919 in Seattle,
Washington. Among those who attended that get-together were
the Italian Consul, Mr. Unti , Drs. August J. Ghiglione
and Xavier DeDonato, Judge George Donworth, Messrs. Ambrose
Chiappa, Frederico M. Bassetti, Idrano Ive, Henry Q. Cervi,
Fred Federici, James Rigo, Victor Nasenga, James Scavotto
(Seattle City Councilman), John Madonna, Felix Rosaia, Albert
G. Vena, Alphonso LaSalle and Captain Charles M. Ferro.
Others attended, but their names are not available.
As a result, Mr. Federico Bassetti, editor of La Gazzetta
Italiana, published a notice inviting all those interested
to attend a meeting at the Fraternal Hall, which was located
at the northwest corner of 4th Avenue and Pike Street. It
was there, on January 20, 1920, that the Italian Club of
today held their first meeting. It was officially founded
on April 26 of that year.
In the beginning meetings were held at various Seattle
locations until 1930 when the Italian Club took the lead
and together with other Italian organizations, purchased
the Pacific Telephone Building at 1520 -17th Avenue and
renamed it the Casa Italiana. With Italian Club funds and
furnishings it was remodeled and refurbished. It provided
club quarters, not only for the Italian Club and the other
Italian organizations but also contained the finest banquet
facilities available at the time.
In 1935, the Italian Commercial Club, the Italian-American
Council and the Italian Athletic Club amalgamated to form
the Italian Club, Inc. James Rispoli, John Dijulio and Pete
Rosaia spearheaded the movement in bringing these clubs
together and providing leadership to the new group but by
then, the Casa Italiana was having difficulties remaining
solvent. Frank Orrico and John DiJulio then initiated the
Columbus Day Banquet and the proceeds from that as well
as from the souvenir programs were sufficient to keep the
Casa Italiana profitable for years to come.
With the telephone company expansion program, Pacific
NW Bell wanted to repurchase the building. After serious
deliberation at a meeting attended by all the Italian organizations,
stock ownership was given to those who had originally contributed
and it was decided to accept the Telephone Company's offer
and search for new quarters. The plan was to obtain a building
that would include space for commercial rental income and
a place for Italian meetings and social functions.
In 1937, the Italian Club met in their new quarters at
620 Union Street that quickly became the finest downtown
club of its day. It was there that the legendary "Chef
Costa" Costanzo Lazzaretti held the reins from 1939
until he founded the Italian Independent Society in 1945.
After losing its lease, the Club moved again to the New
Washington Hotel in 1947 and remained there until 1950.
Through the years, meetings have been held at the Colonial
Manor (7th and Blanchard), Mt. Virgin School Hall, The Norselander
Restaurant, the Sherwood Inn on 45th Ave. NE, the Elks Club
on Lake Union, The Swedish Club, the Scottish Rite Temple
and St. Joseph's School auditorium.
In 1998, under the direction of President Armandino Batali,
the name of the organization was officially changed to the
Italian Club of Seattle, inc. It was also during his administration
that non-Italians were first allowed to join as members.
The Italian Club for Women was founded in 1926 by Cathenne
Menga and others, disbanded during the War years and reorganized
in 1948 as the Women's Auxiliary. It was renamed the Women's
Italian Club in 1999 and disbanded January 1, 2004 when
women were finally welcomed into the Italian Club of Seattle
as full and equal members.
For a complete list of all the Past Presidents of both
organizations through the years,