“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Burlington in Chittenden County, Vermont — The American Northeast (New England)

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Burlington's Little Italy


— "Piccola Italia" —

Neighbors Helping Neighbors Marker image. Click for full size.
By Alexander Schwarzmueller, June 10, 2018
1. Neighbors Helping Neighbors Marker
Imagine yourself back in time...

If you were standing here in 1959, you would see a neighborhood that included a Catholic Cathedral, grammar and high schools and many small businesses such as gas stations, auto dealers and boat companies, dry cleaning services, a dentist office, a barbershop, bakeries, an insurance company, rental housing, restaurants and taverns, grocery stores, a funeral home, a commuunity center, and the homes of more than 160 families.

Many of the people, but not all the people, who lived here were the sons and daughters of Italian immigrants who came to Burlington in the early 1900s in search of work. They were employed by the railroad, the shipping industry, the lumber trade, and various industries based in the city. Like most immigrant groups, the Italians chose to live near family or others who shared their language and customs. Community groups, like the Twin City Italian Club, were established to help members integrate into the political process and to organize social events. The Burlington Community Center provided literacy classes, a nursery school, infant health clinics, Americanization
Neighbors Helping Neighbors Marker image. Click for full size.
By Alexander Schwarzmueller, June 10, 2018
2. Neighbors Helping Neighbors Marker
View is Saint Paul Street southward.
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classes and club activities for all ages. It was remembered as a place where women and girls gathered for bridal and baby showers and special holiday parties for the children.

There remain few traces of the neighborhood today due to Urban Renewal, a program of land redevelopment in older city centers in the 1960s and 1970s. The existing vibrant and successful downtown with offices, condominiums, hotels, and a shopping mall is the result of this national project that significantly altered neighborhoods, livelihoods, and lives forever. Former residents still remember the sacrifices families made in the name of Economic Development. Follow the Little Italy Interpretive Trail and take a walk in the old neighborhood. As you wander, try to "imagine yourself back in time..."

Americanization classes showing left to right Mrs. Madeline Albarelli, Mrs. Stella Merola, Miss Harriet Levenson (UVM class of 1948), Mrs. Christina Beaudino, Miss Helen Wolf (UVM class of 1946), Mrs. Angela, Mrs. Angela Evelti, and Mrs. Benton Holm in 1945. )Images above and right courtesy of UVM Baily Howe LIbrary, Special Collections. Image above and top right also courtesy of the Detore Collection.

The Community Center's annual pet show was featured in Life Magazine on May 26, 1958.

"It was important for our family of 10 to sit down and eat together. As the family
Back of Neighbors Helping Neighbors Marker image. Click for full size.
By Alexander Schwarzmueller, June 10, 2018
3. Back of Neighbors Helping Neighbors Marker
South side of the federal courthouse.
grew we moved to the living room and finally into the basement kitchen in order to accommodate three generations. We never left the table hungry!" - John Varrichione

"My father, Louie Bove had the Popcorn Wagon and then we started the restaurant on Pearl Street in 1941. At Bove's we offered good affordable food, a family of four could eat for under $10 back in 1955 and it was a big deal for families to eat out back then." - Dickie Bove.

1886 Immigrants from Italy arrive in Vermont seeking opportunites in America.
1933 Twin City Italian Club is established with 36 members.
1941 Bove's Family Restaurant opens December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day.
1942 Community Center (today known as the Sara Holbrook Center) opens on College Street.
1958 Burlington voters approve a referendum to apply for Urban Renewal monies from the federal government.
1960 First approval for Champlain Street Urban Renewal Project, a four square block area.
1963 The City receives final approval to begin demolition of the four square block area encompassing 27 acres.
1966 Demolition begins in May.
1968 Victoria Dutra and her family at the "Ponderosa" the last home standing.
1970s The federal government discontinued the Urban Renewal Program and demolition actions in Burlington ceased.
1983 Vermont Italian Cultural Association (VICA) is formed mostly with out-of-state
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transplants who coined the phrase "Little Italy Burlington"
2011 Interpretive signs recognize the neighborhood lost to Urban Renewal.

This interpretive sign is one of a series of three signs interpreting the lives of over 150 families who once called this 4 square block area home until the late 1960s. We invite you to explore this old ethnic community and learn more about the daily lives of this predominately Italian neighborhood, proudly installed by the Vermont Italian Club. (The three sign locations are indicated in orange on map at left.)
Erected by Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Notable Places. A significant historical date for this entry is May 26, 1958.
Location. 44° 28.827′ N, 73° 12.864′ W. Marker is in Burlington, Vermont, in Chittenden County. Marker is at the intersection of Pearl Street and Saint Paul Street, on the right when traveling west on Pearl Street. Marker is at the south side of the federal courthouse. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 11 Elmwood Avenue, Burlington VT 05401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Meeting House (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Church Street Marketplace (about 400 feet away); First Unitarian Universalist Society Meeting House (about 500 feet away);
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Saint-Joseph Parish (approx. 0.2 miles away); 103 Church Street (approx. 0.2 miles away); Neighborhood Groceries (approx. ¼ mile away); Site of the Old Gas Station (approx. ¼ mile away); Howard William Plant memorial (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Burlington.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 15, 2018. It was originally submitted on June 15, 2018, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 107 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on June 15, 2018, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.

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Jul. 27, 2021