The Sons of Italy

    There is but a handful of people that live in Ellwood City that have never been inside the S.O.I. (if that many). Whether as a member of the organization, or as a guest of a member in the club, or maybe even to a wedding reception, we all have memories of the Sons of Italy. Originally the S.O.I. building was the Hotel Dugan.  Built the same year Ellwood City became a borough in 1892, the hotel was one of the first large brick buildings in Ellwood City. In 1934, the Sons of Italy purchased the Dugan building but it was not remodeled until 1939 to house an assembly hall, dance hall, secretary’s office, and a kitchen that was capable of accommodating up to four hundred people.
A couple of people have mentioned to us about the big name entertainers that performed at the S.O.I. which was a major factor in the clubs decision to add a large addition to the dance hall in 1948. During the ‘Big Band Era’, the club hosted names such as Guy Lombardo, Ray Anthony Orchestra, Tommy & Jimmy Dorsay. Skith Henderson performed his hits “the Bunny Hop”, “Hokey Pokey”, and his big hit “At Last” at the club also. The first performer in the expanded Memorial Hall (named in honor of the World War II veterans) was Louie Prima, who attracted about seven hundred people. Just think, you thought you were crowded at the last wedding you attended there with three hundred people. The hall was so packed that a hundred people sat in the balcony and both bars were five people deep the entire night. The current layout of the hall is a little different from that time as the kitchen was a bar then and the bar was meeting room then.  
We know the Sons of Italy in Ellwood City was founded in 1916 and we can list the full history, the locations, date it was built, so on and so on. However that is not really what we started this site for. We need more MEMORIES. Funny stories, touching stories, you know, the good stuff. If you have a story you would like to share about S.O.I., please email me at or leave a comment at the bottom of this post.


9 thoughts on “The Sons of Italy”

  1. I grew up living in the Lambert Building at the corner of 8th St. & Lawrance Ave.,in the mid 50’s which also housed the Hires Bottling Plant. Being only a few buildings away every Friday night my family would order a pizza and I would go over and pick it up, Dominic Ferrante was always the door man and would allow me to go to the Kitchen window to pay for and pick up the pizza. They than were made in a large cookie sheet pan and were rectangle. They were the best pizza in the county

    Patrick (Mickey) Franus

  2. I remembere the S.O.I. as the place where we had our after prom and still once in awhile our class reunions. great times

    1. Don, Those after proms were memorable. I remember we had Jimmy Beaumont and the Skyliners when they were just starting out and opened for The Flamingos.

  3. I remember my neighbor, Mike Deloia, was a member of the Sons of Italy. It stays in my mind as an iconic place in the Ellwood City community. Only once have I been inside. 1980. I ran into my sister Betty’s old boyfriend. Arch was his name. He was single and worked as a software technical documentation specialist…in California. On vacation, he had come back to Ellwood City and stopped in to the SOI on a Saturday night. Moral to the story is those born in the town love to come back to it. Ellwood City holds great memories for lots of people.

  4. Hey, Dave.
    I was in your 7th grade class at Hartman. before you moved to Shenango. I taught with your friend, Jerry Trimble at Shenango for thirty years.

  5. The Italian side of my family has been in Ellwood since the early 1900’s. Cruciani is a last name that some people should know. I miss the old days. God Bless

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