Italian American Club of Jacksonville
History of the Italian American Club of Jacksonville
The Italian American club of Jacksonville takes pride in being River City's oldest ethnic organization. Its history began during the early twenties when a small group of immigrants decided to form a social club to continue their rich Italian heritage.
After a short time this original club disbanded and, in January, 1935, the American Italian Club of Jacksonville was born. This organization consisted mainly of first generation Americans whose motto was stated by its President, Antonio P. Marconi, Sr. "to bring Italian people together". The very first affair was a gala May festival which crowned Josephine Scalise as our first queen.
During World War II the club was temporarily disbanded but friendships founded by common bonds continued and helped pass this period of national suffering.
In 1951, with the war over, the club was officially founded by a formal Charter. From that time, the dream of those few members was to have a clubhouse for the many dances, dinners and socials planned. After years of meeting at members homes, restaurants and meeting halls, a pavilion on the city's Southside became the IAC's first formal structure. It was later enclosed by Tony Battaglia and the club's name was changed to the Italian American Club, Inc.
The vision of a new hall persisted and, in June 1978, the new clubhouse in Mandarin was officially opened with much pomp and ceremony. This event brought misty eyes to many of the remaining founding fathers whose children and grandchildren shared this special day with them. In the new building IAC has grown to a membership of over 200, covering four generations of Italian Americans along with their relatives and friends.
The club has also broadened its horizons through membership in the Florida Federation of Italian American Clubs and the NIAF.
Throughout six decades, the Italian American Club in Jacksonville has grown and prospered through its recognition of "Orgoglio Italiano" - Italian Pride!
Submitted by: Lucy Cortese