The Andrew Lannutti Post
A Little History and a Lot of Fun
By Jack Coll
3-27-20 published 6/21/2020
In my third floor office where I keep all my files, a full library of more than one and a half million photographs, slides and negatives, and where I do all my writing, I keep a running list of articles and projects that I’m working on, and a list of ideas for future projects, that include articles, books, photograph projects among other things.
I’ve found myself with a little more time on my hands thanks to the coronavirus, therefore spending more time in my office. So I visited my list of TO-DO’S and see I been meaning to do a little piece on the Andrew Lannutti Post located at 505 Maple Street.
A few months back I paid a visit to the Andrew Lannutti Post on the occasion of what has been called “Taste of the Feast,” in an effort to keep the former SS. Cosmas & Damian yearly Feast alive.
They did not have kiddie rides and the event didn’t last for three days, but I can tell you that the roast beef sandwiches were feast grade, the fried dough melted in your mouth, and the beer and wine went down easy.
I also visited the Lannutti Post on the occasion of a Friends-giving Day party, (a take-off on Thanksgiving Day party). There was an old photograph on the interior wall of the Club and it sparked a conversation about the age of the building and the purpose of the building.
The name Andrew Lannutti came long after the building at 505 Maple Street was constructed. It all started back around the turn of last century when Italian immigrants poured into Conshohocken looking for work at one of the many mills along the river-front.
By 1910 many Italian families wanted their own place of worship, they would attend mass at the all Irish St. Matthew’s Church founded in 1851, a few of the Itialians attended mass at St. Mary’s Church founded in 1905, but most of the Italian immigrants would travel by horse and buggy to Holy Saviour Church in Norristown.
By 1911, the Italian immigrants were conducting church services on the second floor of Little’s Opera House once located on the corner of First Avenue and Fayette Street. The building was torn down in the early 1920’s and a F. W. Woolworths was constructed, the building later became Light Parker Furniture Store and currently Nuddy’s Restaurant. Many of the immigrants who came to Conshohocken were from the Province of Isernia in Italy, where there was a shrine dedicated to SS. Cosmas and Damian, twin brother physicians who were martyrs for the faith and whose names had appeared in the Canon of the Mass for centuries. Consequently, these saints were named the patrons of the new parish.
As the Italian parishioners prepared to purchase ground to build their own church a number of Italian organizations had been formed and all of them participated in raising funds. Over the years a few of the organizations before and after the church was built included the Societa Di Mutuo Soccorso, (Italian Mutual Help Society,) (I.M.H.S.) established in 1905, the Fraternal Association of SS. Cosmas and Damian, founded in 1907, the Columbus Citizens Club, formed in 1920, the Italian Beneficial Society, the Italian Mother’s Club, the SS. Salvatora, SS. Cosmas and Damianio Society, formed in 1912, the S.S. Nichola and S.S. Adamiio Society the Beneficial Society also founded in 1912 and let’s not forget the St. Rita’s Sodality who had been a major part of the church’s success since 1917.
In 1930 the Fraternal Association of SS. Cosmas and Damian, was founded in 1907 and the members decided to build their own headquarters. Property was purchased, and construction began on the northeast corner of Third Avenue and Maple Street, currently known as Jack Francis Catering. The building was constructed at a cost of three thousand dollars and the construction work was done entirely by members of the association. When the building was finished under the supervision of Phillip Gravinese the auditorium sat up to 400 people. Up until the Third Avenue headquarters many of the Italian residents would gather at Moore’s Hall, located on Maple Street above Sixth Avenue, where Don Lens Trophies is located.
Just two years later the Italian Mutual Help Society founded in 1905 decided to build a headquarters at 505 Maple Street. The building was completed in 1933, the same year the Conshohocken Bocce Club was completed. In 1945 the S. Cosmas and Damian Association and the Italian Mutual Help Society merged.
All of this brings us to the Andrew Lannutti Post Home and how it came-to-be. During World War Two, Conshohocken suffered a number of war casualties. Following the war a number of Veterans Post were created to honor both, our returning veterans and our deceased. There was the Walter Zurkowski Post, the Conshohocken Marine Detachment, the Joseph Wagner Post, Binns Volpe Post and of course the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1074 founded in 1933.
In January 1946, a group of Italian Americans gathered in an effort to formulate a Veterans Post in honor of all the Conshohocken Italians who served and those who gave their lives defending this Country during both World War One and World War Two. By March of 1946, more than 400 residents and dignitaries attended a banquet at the Moose Home in Norristown to accept the Charter that officially formulated the Andrew Lannutti Post No. 18, Italian-American World War Veterans of the United States.
At the installation banquet in 1946, more than 100 Italian Veterans from World War One and more than 100 Italian Veterans from World War Two attended the banquet, and more than 200 other veterans surrounded the room to greet the guest. Among the invited guest at the banquet was Damiano Sassi, a West Sixth Avenue resident who was a Past National Commander of the organization and prime figure in the formation of the Lannutti Post.
Also in attendance at the Charter Banquet were Mary and Mariano Lannutti, parents of Andrew, whom the Post had been named after. Andrew Lannutti grew up at 221 West Fourth Avenue and was one of fourteen Italians who hailed from this borough and was killed overseas during World War Two. Andrew was 20 years old when he was killed in action in Europe on November 23, 1943. The other 13 Italians who never returned home from the battlefields of the war included Michael Barbato, Joseph Desimone, Michael Bosco Jr., Dominick Bianco, Joseph DiLulle, (an uncle of Andrew Lannutti), Joseph Frederick, Anthony Giandonato, John Giandonato, Anthony Mashintonio, Peter DiPallo, Dominic Piermani, Augustus Neve and Joe Roddi.
Shortly after the Lannutti Post charter was granted, the organization set their sights on a Post Home, which didn’t take long. In January 1950, more than 300 residents and guests attended a dedication banquet at the new Post Headquarters at 505 Maple Street. During dedication comments, National Commander Henry Selvitella told the audience that 35,000 Italian American soldiers gave their lives in the war and another 150,000 received military awards, including 15 Congressional Medals. It should be noted that about 250 Italian residents of Conshohocken served during World War Two.
Today, a Board of Directors keeps the Lannutti Post Home open and the name of Andrew Lannutti in the public eye. According to Russ Cardamone, a current Board Member he expressed that today it is a great social club and all members of the community are welcome to sign up for a social membership for only $10.00 a year. Cardamone noted that the club has shuffleboard leagues, corn-hole leagues and the beer is cheap. Every year a major St. Patty’s Day party is held as well at the annual “Taste of the Feast.” Friday nights are a lot of fun in the social room and the hall is available for rent with a small discount going to members. It’s a great space for parties, celebrations graduation parties and other small events.
Looking at the front of the building there’s a 1933 corner stone marking the year the building was constructed and another stone at the top of the building over the front door inscribed “I.M.H.S” stands for Italian Mutual Help Society, founded in 1905.
Conshohocken’s Italian population has built a tremendous history in this town that began before the start of the last century. The Italian population carved-out a home here and never looked back. Like the rest of the borough’s immigrants they worked hard, put God and family first, and for 125 years has been a leader in bringing our community together.
Make sure you check-out an event or two at the Andrew Lannutti Post, at 505 Maple Street or be sure to call for a hall rental.
Photos shown above and below:
The Andrew Lannutti Post Home located at 505 Maple Street.
A banquet photograph at the 42nd Anniversary of the Societa Di Mutuo Soccorso, (Italian Mutual Help Society) taken on October 13, 1946. The banquet was held on the second floor of the Warrell Building located at West Second Avenue and Fayette Street, currently home of the Great American Pub, second floor banquet room.
A painting of Andrew Lannutti that hangs in the clubhouse room of the Andrew Lannutti Post Home.
The house at 221 West Fourth Avenue was once owned by Mary and Mariano Lannutti where their son Andrew grew up before going off to war.
The bar area in the downstairs club-room area of the Andrew Lannutti Post, new memberships are welcome.