From the late nineteenth through the twentieth century, the South Village was a tale of two communities: Italian immigrants and American-born artists, authors, and performers. This illustrated Zoom lecture explores the Italians’ reactions to their neighbors. Sometimes the Italians provided inspiration for artists; sometimes they became part of the mainstream community themselves. More often the communities operated in parallel: Eugene O’Neill at the Provincetown Playhouse, a Passion Play at a church auditorium. There is also some intriguing evidence that even though the Italians and the creative types came to the Village to pursue different dreams, they both found what they wanted in the Village’s unique mix of buildings.
Village Preservation kicked off its campaign to honor, document, and seek landmark designation for the South Village and its remarkable immigrant and bohemian histories in December of 2006 and completed the effort in December of 2016 with designation of the third and final phase of our proposed South Village Historic District, the largest expansion of landmark protections in the neighborhood since 1969, and among the city’s first and only historic districts to honor immigrant and artistic history. We now celebrate each December as “South Village Month.”
Mary Brown first spoke to a Village Preservation audience in Spring 2005. She works as an archivist at the Center for Migration Studies, a mission of the Scalabrini Fathers, who are also active in the Village at Our Lady of Pompei parish, and she teaches writing and US history as an adjunct at Marymount Manhattan College. She received her doctorate from Columbia University in 1986. Her dissertation was on Italian Catholic immigrants in the Archdiocese of New York. Her next publication will be in a new field, co-authored with Dr. Christine Angel of St. John’s University in Queens: “Building Representative Archives: Training Archivists to Act as the (Representative/ Inclusive) Bridge between the Archive and the Public.” She also authored the Village Preservation commissioned report and study, The Italians of the South Village.
- Tuesday, December 19, 2023
- 6:00 pm