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Exploring the Legacy of the Piccirilli Brothers in Mott Haven: A Sculptural Masterpiece in the Bronx

NOTES FOR A DOCUMENTARY FILM | The Mott Heaven, once home to the Piccirilli Marble Carving Studio, is a part of the South Bronx that preserves much of its immigrant and working-class appeal. Despite the fame of being a ruthless part of town, I found it safer than Times Square, and definitely more interesting. At the turn of the century, it was Italian, still somewhat rural, with many empty lots; today you can find people from all over the world, mostly Hispanic, African, and from the Middle East, Albania, Ukraine, and other Eastern European nations.

The Italian Factor, Attilio Piccirilli
How the inside of parts of the studio might have looked like

The Piccirilli Studio on E. 142nd St is gone, but the rows of housing where many of them and their descendants initially lived are still there. A hydrant reveals a date which coincided with a time in which the Piccirilli were famous around the nation for the work they had done at the Lincoln Memorial. In fact, in 1926, Henry Bacon and Daniel Chester French were still discussing the effects of artificial lighting in the monument.

Mott Heaven and the Piccirilli Brothers

Today, the space once occupied by the studio is home to a Christian church; a welcoming sanctuary provides solace to immigrants, mostly from Central America. Across the street is a school that provides the soundtrack of children which Attilio evoked in a radio interview back in 1940.

For The Italian Factor, a documentary film in progress about the Life and Art of Attilio Piccirilli and his brothers.


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