When my great grandfather Pietro immigrated from Italy to Chicago he opened a music store probably in the late 1890’s. The store may have been called the Oakley Music House, it was on the corner of Oakley and Harrison.
Eventually the store was named the Del Principe Accordion Company and was the Chicago agent for Dallape Accordions. I recently spoke with one of the employees of the Italo-American Store in Chicago named Pompi. He knew of the Del Principe brothers. He repairs accordions for the Italo-American store but did not do repairs for us. He did say that the brothers imported accordions from The Polverini Brothers in Italy. There is a Polverini store in Chicago. I spoke with the owner’s daughter. She said her uncle came to America to open a store but changed the store name from Polverini to Alywind Inc.
The music store address was 2244 W Harrison St in Chicago. The building had 3 floors. In the 1920 census Pietro and Elvira were living at this address with Antonio, Hank, Otto, Paul, Gilbert, Frank, Emil, along with 2 daughters-in-law Margaret and Rose. Also living here were grandchildren Bernie, Anne, Willie, and Eleanor. Wow, can you imagine the happy noise in that structure!?
In the 1930 census Elvria was living in the home with Hank and Paul. The apartment on the third floor was split into two apartments. My grandfather Gilbert, his wife Bertha, and my aunt Phyllis are listed in the upstairs apartment and Antonio, Margaret, Elvira, and Eileen are listed in the other upstairs apartment. The apartments were shuffled between one or another brother and his family for many, many years. The property was eventually sold to the city of Chicago and the land is now part of the University of Illinois campus.
Uncle Otto in front of the Del Principe Music House at 5516 W. North Ave.
Frank, Otto, John, Joe, and Tony all participated in running additional stores. Other addresses I have for the stores are: 29 S. Cicero Ave, 307 S. Wabash Ave, 5220 W. North Ave, 5222 W. North Ave, and 5600 W. North Ave (all in Chicago).
Eventually one store was passed from Otto to his sons Phil and Pete to run. Phil’s business card lists the store as Del Principe Accordion Co.
(312) 656-2848 at 6129 W. Cermak Road in Cicero.
The store was sold to new owners when the brothers passed away.
Last week my brother Tony drove downtown to run an errand and offered to drive by the block of Harrison where the apartments used to be and take a photograph for me. The photo below is of Tony at the University of Illinois at Chicago at 2242 W Harrison.
Now I’m on a mission to find a photo of the three story home at 2244 W Harrison that Elvira and Pietro shared with their children and was also home to the first music store. As you know, when I’m on a mission I am relentless. If anyone has a photo will you pretty please email it me or mail me a copy? I will be forever in your debt!
Please click this link to see a photo of what the music store looked like in the 1930’s.