The historical marker “Italians in Richmond” will be dedicated tomorrow, Sunday, May 7, at 1 p.m., at the sign’s location in Pollock Park [what we know as Ann Hardy Plaza], along Carolina Avenue, between Milton and Pollock Streets in Richmond. The public is encouraged to attend. Featured speakers during the ceremony will be Catherine Flumiani, First Counselor of the Embassy of Italy, and William J. Martin, director of The Valentine. The photo shows local artist Ferruccio Legnaioli (second from right) and Italian immigrant craftsmen he hired in early 20th century. Legnaioli’s legacy is highlighted in the marker. (Photo is from Richmond Magazine courtesy of Lou Lagnaioli.) Here’s the marker text:
Italians in Richmond
Italian immigrants were a small but cohesive segment of Richmond’s population by the 1850s. Local artist Ferruccio Legnaioli, who employed many Italian immigrant artisans, influenced the cityscape with his ornamental designs for the facades of prominent buildings early in the 20th century. In 1927 the Italian-American community gave the city a statue of Christopher Columbus, designed by Legnaioli and erected near Byrd Park. From the 1920s to the 1960s about 100 families, primarily from Tuscany, resided in a tight-knit “Little Italy” here in North Highland Park. Central to community life were restaurateur Umberto Balducci’s villa, the Italian Club, and St. Elizabeth Catholic Church.