This new museum recently opened, celebrating the heritage of the neighborhood surrounding it.
For generations, Cleveland has been home to a thriving Italian-American community, including a Little Italy on the city’s far east side. That heritage is commemorated at the new Italian-American Museum of Cleveland. Located in a storefront on Mayfield Road (the former site of Presti’s Bakery, next door to its current location), the museum has officially opened to the public.
“People come to the neighborhood and realize there is history, but as the neighborhood changes, people realize they need to keep that connection to history,” says director Pamela Dorazio Dean. Here are some items to check out while you’re there:
Giuseppe Carabelli’s order book – Carabelli, a skilled stonecutter, arrived in Cleveland in the late 1800s and started Lakeview Granite & Monumental Works. Italian artisans were responsible for stone work throughout Lake View Cemetery, at Severance Hall and of course, the Guardians of Traffic on the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge.
A Sicilian cart Formerly displayed at another Italian-American heritage museum in Cleveland, the ornate cart is a cultural symbol of the Mediterranean island. They were at one point ceremonial, Dorazio-Dean says, but are now used for ceremonies and parades if they’re used at all.
A Bolivar Street family photo The photo of a family in front of their home in the early 1900s chronicles life in “Big Italy,” the neighborhood much larger than Little Italy, which has all but vanished – and is now the site of the Gateway complex downtown.
Bonus: Since you’re in the neighborhood, you might visit the new Rocky Colavito statue is in Tony Brush Park. Unveiled on Rocky’s 88th birthday in August, the sculpture by David Deming, whose works include the statues of Larry Doby, Lou Boudreau and Frank Robinson at Progressive Field, is a tribute to the Italian-American fan favorite.