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Garibaldi’s Pantheon

Wednesday 28 December 2005

This is a reminder to myself, to discover more about the New York cottage in which the Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi lived between 1850 and 1854. It was the house of Antonio Meucci, belatedly acknowledged as the inventor of the telephone.

Meucci's cottage, 1890

Antonio Meucci’s cottage in 1890, on its original site [Image source]
When Garibaldi died in 1884 a committee was formed to commemorate the hero’s stay on these shores. Meucci was on hand that year when a marble plaque was placed over the front door of the house. After Meucci’s death, the house was turned over to the Italian community to be preserved as a memorial to Garibaldi.

By 1907, on the centennial of the hero’s birth, the house was moved to it’s present location, where a
pantheon was erected over it. In 1919, the Garibaldi Society turned over the house to the Order Sons of Italy in America. The Order has restored and maintained the house ever since. With the assistance of the cultural department of the Italian Embassy, artifacts were collected from around the world. In May of 1956 the house was opened to the public and rededicated as the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum. Today the museum is a National Landmark owned and operated by the Order Sons of Italy in America. Come visit us and imagine Garibaldi and Meucci actually talking over the first telephone in 1850 in a quaint home on Staten Island. [Blurb from the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum website]
Postcard of Garibaldi Memorial
Postcard of Garibaldi Memorial, Rosebank, Staten Island, N.Y. [New York Public Library Digital Gallery, Digital ID 104877]

The museum website does not explain when or why the remarkable Pantheon was removed. I found some clues in an on-line exhibit of photographs by Berenice Abbott: It appears that in 1952 the structure was decrepit and was torn down.

I am keen to know more about the pantheon’s design, construction and removal.

filed under Conservation

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