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Mayor Fiorello La Guardia reading the Daily News election results in 1941.


March 31, 2008

NEW YORK, March 31--The Italian American Museum has completed financing of its future home in Manhattan’s Little Italy, it was announced today. Museum officials say the cultural attraction will begin occupying the space "in a matter of weeks."

M&T Bank arranged financing for the property, whose sale price was $9.4 million. The deal included three contiguous 19th Century tenements located at 189, 187 and 185 Grand St., Together, the structures total 10,000 square feet, but, as part of its development, the museum plans to add two floors to the existing three-story buildings. When completed, the floor space will double to 20,000 square feet.

Initially, the museum plans to open an information center on the ground floor of 189 Grand St. In addition, its president, Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa will move his office there from the temporary space he currently occupies in Midtown. The museum itself is currently based at 28 West 44th St. in a 17th floor space provided by the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute of Queens College of The City University of New York.

The building at 189 Grand St., which is on the southwest corner of Mulberry St., houses the defunct Banca Stabile, a bank utilized by Italian immigrants during the immigration wave of the early 20th Century. The storefront bank has been well-preserved by the buildings' former owner, Dr. Jerome Stabile III, whose ancestors founded the institution in 1882. Its tellers’ windows and huge safe are still intact.

"We officially have a home now," beamed Dr. Scelsa. "The Italian American Museum will be a vital addition to the city’s—and the nation’s—cultural experience. It is a place where the Italian-American experience can be showcased and celebrated for generations to come."

Dr. Scelsa said the completion of the transaction would be announced officially at the Museum’s annual black-tie gala at Cipriani Downtown on April 25.

The Italian American Museum received its charter in 2001 and became a CUNY affiliate in 2003. Its first exhibition, "The Italians of New York," was staged at the New-York Historical Society in 1999. It received widespread acclaim and was visited by more than 50,000 people during its four month run.

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