"A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots."


The Music Store

by  Phyllis Zeck

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.  

S OakleyEventually 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. 

Chromatic Accordion

Chromatic Accordion

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 store on North Ave.

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.  

        Uncle Otto

  Pete, Elvira (Snookie), and Phil                               Uncle Otto


One of my husband’s was favorite shows on the science channel is called “How It’s Made”.  Check out this 3 minute video explaining how an Accordion is made.



                     Bobby Winike                               Del Principe Accordion

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.  

Anthony Winike

Anthony Winike

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! 

UPDATE 2013 
Please click this link to see a photo of what the music store looked like in the 1930’s.



15 Responses to The Music Store

  1. 13 years ago by Mario Cutini

    Sono Mario Cutini nato a Pescasseroli il 27/12/1951.
    Figlio di: Carmelo Cutini (21/03/1901 Pescasseroli)
    Maria Agostina Del Principe (01/01/1906Pescasseroli).
    Cutini Carmelo figlio di Andrea Cutini e Giuseppa Papa(nata a Pescasseroli)
    Maria Agostina Del Principe figlia di Donato De Principe e Liberata Di Pirro.
    Mi risulta che abbiamo parenti col nome Ursitti efamglia di Benedetto Croce di Pescasseroli.
    Mio nonno Donato Del Principe è venuto in America 3 volte.
    I fratelli i mia nonna Liberata Del Principe e di mia nonna Giuseppa Papa vennero tutti in America

    Siamo vostri parenti?
    Comunque mi fa piacere. Attendo vostre notizie Mario Cutini

    • 11 years ago by Rob Winike

      Here is the translation from Google Translate:
      Mario Cutini are born in the Pescasseroli 12/27/1951.
      Son of: Carmelo Cutini (03/21/1901 Pescasseroli)
      Maria Agostina Del Principe (01/01/1906Pescasseroli).
      Cutini Carmelo son of Andrea Cutini and Josepha Pope (born in Pescasseroli)
      Maria Agostina Del Principe De Donato daughter of Prince and Liberata Di Pirro.
      I understand that we have relatives with the name of Benedetto Croce Ursitti efamglia Pescasseroli.
      My grandfather Donato Del Principe came to America 3 times.
      The brothers i my grandmother Liberata Del Principe and my grandmother Josefa Pope were all in America

      We are your relatives?
      However, I am pleased. Look forward to hearing Mario Cutini

  2. 13 years ago by Dean DelPrincipe

    Wow, I’m Dean DelPrincipe. Son of John Anthony DelPrincipe. My father was adopted by John and Jeanette that lived on the 3rd floor of 2244 W Harrison St. My dad would be very interested in this site and may be able to fill in the names of the unknown people in the pics you have posted on this site.

    • 12 years ago by John McCallion

      Is your Dad Bubbles….John

      • 11 years ago by Bill Elwell

        Hi I sure would like to talk to Bubbles it’s been a long time we spent our young years in Chicago and in Orland Park at his dad’s place in the old “round” house…

        • 11 years ago by Dean(Dino) Del Principe

          I’m John’s oldest son Dino. I remember you. My dad alway’s was talking about your house and how it was automated. The robot you built. I remember seeing it on tv once on some show along with your house. He’d love to hear from you. He doesn’t have the internet, but his cell # is
          219-218-0691. He’s recently had a stroke. He’s doing fine, but still in recovery from that. You know how stubborn he is, so that’s not holding him back. Was driving the same day even though he was told not to. We took his keys. We should have known he had another set lol.

  3. 13 years ago by Elva Morris

    Hi, I used to work for Phil at the music store. I think it was on the 5500 block of North Ave., next to the library. He used to be busily fixing accordians… I was just a young girl at the time and he was always very nice to me, I’m sorry to hear that he’s gone.

  4. 12 years ago by tom winike

    Dean mentions the third floor apartment at 2244 W. Harrison. I remember that home very well.
    Uncle John and Aunt Jeanette were always so kind to me. I sort of worshipped all my mother’s uncles but Uncle John and Uncle Hank were my favorites because they could do anything, just like my Grandpa.

    Uncle John was a neighborhood hero in the old days. He taught me carpentry when I was a kid. We used to replace the boards in the huge wooden decks behind his apartment home. He also had a wonderful house in the country called “Playfield”. He built his big house from scratch and a bunch of cottages for his guests.

    The weekend getawy from the inner city was awesome and magical! He welcomed all of his nephews by name. He was an incredible inspiration. I miss him dearly….

  5. 11 years ago by Rob Britton

    My mother, MarLyn Fredian, had an accordion from Signor del Principe. She stopped playing it in the 1940s, but it sat it a case in our basement, and once in awhile in the 1950s and ’60s she would get it out. The bellows were mildewed, but I still remember it was a beautiful instrument, proudly labeled “P. del Principe” and decorated with, among other things, red rhinestones that spelled “MARLYN.” When she still played it, they lived on Marshfield Avenue, just south of Diversey. Thanks for the nice connection — I always wondered who made the accordion, and thanks to Google and your blog, now I know!

    Best regards,
    Rob Britton
    McLean, Virginia

  6. 11 years ago by dennis grinnell

    i have a p. del principe special model with a no. 1703 you not knowing yhe condition what do you think it is how much and what year

  7. 9 years ago by John McCallion

    We went to play field all the time. Shot guns there. They had the round house and big barn. We swing on swings near the barn.
    The round house was like a kitchen. Bubbles eventually had a house out the with wife Ginny? And the kids

    • 8 years ago by Andrew Del Principe

      It’s awesome to read comments about my father, “bubbles” because he never told us about what you fellas are talking about.

  8. 4 years ago by Ron Ziska

    I remember talking accordion lessons at P. del Principe around 1938 at age 6. It must have been the store on Cermak Rd. Because we lived in Cicero and we always stopped at Janda’s On Cermak for fried shrimp on the way home!

  9. 3 years ago by Terri Rosado

    Otto was my grandfather. I used to be in his record shop all the time with my grandmother when i was a little girl.

  10. 3 years ago by Len

    i run a Facebook group called Austin 15th district chgo westside pre 1978 that has family members on it. The north ave address was in Austin and a staple in our community. If your on facebook please jon group. I am going to share this article with that group with the pictures, some of which i already had.


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