hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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August 8, 2013

Landmark Sons of Italy building for sale

Group hopes to preserve strong local presence

(Continued)

LoConte said the lodge bought the building when there were many vacant buildings downtown and prices were low. Within 10 years, the lodge sold the right side of the building. Currently, the lodge is located between the Lasting Room restaurant and the Blue Finn Grille restaurant.

In the late 1800s, the Haverhill Italian community formed the Victor Emanuel Society as a social and fraternal organization which provided help, such as doctor’s care and temporary benefits, to out-of-work or ill members, LoConte said. In 1932, the society joined the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and formed the Victor Emanual Lodge No. 1646.

One of the factors that led to the lodge exploring ideas for the building is that it is an organization with many aging members and fewer new young members taking their place, LoConte said.

”Most of the new members are entering through the drum and bugle corps and they are very passionate members,” LoConte said. “Some of them are the ones who are looking into ways we can better utilize the building. That could mean many things, including our renting a portion of the building or renting out space.”

But in the meantime, the lodge’s various committees are busy planning several popular annual events, including the Pasta Fagioli Cookoff on Sept. 21, the annual Italian Dinner on Oct. 19 (October is Italian Heritage month), the Miss Italy Contest, with a date to be announced, and the annual Turkey Raffle on Nov. 1.

”It’s a great feeling of family when you’re involved in our events,” said lodge president Rick Picone. “When we have 45s tournaments on Monday nights, we have all-you-can-eat pasta for $3.”

The lodge’s events raise money for operating expenses and for charities, including Cooley’s Anemia Foundation, Cancer research to help children, Casa Monte Casino providing free housing to families coming from aboard seeking medical care in Boston, the Don Orione Home (a nursing and rehabilitation center in East Boston) and for Alzheimer’s research.

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