The Branford Italian American Social Club, as we know it today, is a coming together of many organizations. The earliest Italian immigrants coming to Branford were stone cutters, quarrymen, laborers, and boarding house supervisors. They were recruited in Italy and brought to the quarries of Stony Creek between 1890 and 1915. The I. Rossi & Co. and the O.W. Norcross Company were the largest of the quarry employers. The immigrants worked for long hours. Their basic needs were met by the quarries. Their lodging and meals were provided by the company and it was many months before many of these workers ventured out of the quarry and began to explore their new hometown.
As more immigrants arrived, the Italian families settled throughout Branford.
The main area included Braushy Plains, the railroad Depot-Railway St.
(now Meadow St.), the Fourth Ward, and the Lock Shop Hill area of Ivy St.,
Silver St., Chestnut St., Svea Ave., Main and East Main Sts. Early meetings
were held in Svea Hall. It's not a coincidence that the present Club is located
on Hamre Lane.
The first organization for Italian Immigrants in Branford was the
SOCIETA ROMA, Di Mutuo Soccorso. (The Roma Mutual Aid Society).
It was founded on October 8, 1907, by early members of the Italian community.
The purpose of the Society Roma was to assist any member in need. The dues were $1.00 per month and the benefit to needy members was $5.00 per week. Many families were helped when illness, death, or extreme financial hardship happened. Medical Doctors Mendillo and Capecelatro from New Haven took care of the immigrants, until many Italian immigrant families patients of Dr. Michael Carpinella, who set up his practice in Branford.
Many members joined the Branford Italian-American Club when it was founded and helped membership in both organizations. The last meeting of the Roma Society was a farewell dinner at Jim & Nino's Restaurant in 1949.
Also, the Branford Italian Band was formed in the first decade of the 20th century. It was formed by the many Italian immigrant musicians in Branford and they're fine uniforms, they performed in area parades, outings, and social functions. The band leader f or many years was Main Street barber, Ralph Palumbo.
Another organization that serviced Italian immigrants was the SOCIETA FEMMINILA ROMA, Di Mutuo Soccorso. Founded by Gina Polastri and Gioconda Amatori on February 11, 1935. It was open to women of Italian origin and Italian women who were married to husbands of a different nationality. They held numerous social events, raised funds for mutual aid, and took on projects for the betterment of Branford. After World War II, the Society collected tons of clothing for war victims in Italy. The Society disbanded after serving the community in the early 1950s.
In April 1983, the Italian-American Women's Auxiliary was founded and included some
former members of the SOCIETA FEMMINILE ROMA, their daughters, and
granddaughters. The organization was very active in social and charitable functions
and supported the activities of the Men's Club. They later disbanded as a by-law change
in the Men's Club brought the Women's Auxiliary members into the
Branford Italian American Club as full members.
The Branford Italian American Social Club was established on August 8, 1932, and
incorporated on April 28, 1948. The purpose of the Club was to organize the Italians
of Branford, keeping their identity with some of the customs of their native Italy.
Strong bonds of fellowship and brotherhood are spirits that continue in the Club's
Early meetings of the Club were held at Svea Hall on Svea Avenue. After a few years, a two-story building on Rose Street, known as the Peanut Shop was rented, renovated, and used as their first clubrooms. Soon, a building lot was purchased from G.A.R. Hamre on Beach St. (now called Hamre Lane) and plans were drawn up to build the present Club building.
Construction began, partly financed by members purchasing "non-interest-bearing shares" many of which were never redeemed, a gift to the Club. Also, a mortgage was secured from the Branford Bank. The building was mostly built by the members themselves. The clerk of the works and general building foreman was Rocco Orsini. The building was completed and was dedicated on June 19, 1938. It stands today as a monument to cooperation and the hard work and perseverance of the members.
The Branford Italian American Club is as vital today as it was when it was founded.
The Club participates in the Branford Festival, holds an annual Golf Tournament and donates the proceeds to worthy community charities, sponsors a Branford High School Scholarship, and is involved with collecting food for the Branford Food Pantry. The Branford Counseling Center, Secret Santa Program is a favorite of club members. The Club also participates in the Columbus Columbus Day activities of New Haven county when the Columbus parade is held in Branford every six years.
Numerous social activities are well attended and the spirit of brotherhood is as strong today as ever. Whether it is a spirited card game, in-depth conversation at the bar, bocce league competition, or parties and dances at the club hall, the club is a second home to many members and their families. After 80 years, the second and third generations of our founder's families, long-time members, and our newest members, both men and women, are poised to continue our club for years to come.