Tag Archives: Vincenzo Del Negro

1906-1914: Picturing the Del Negro Brothers’ Worksites

Sepia Saturday 588Fourteenth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

The last post mapped Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor, where Michael Del Negro — younger brother of my second great-grandmother Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio — operated his small business in Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y., in the early 1900s.

Yet as fascinating as maps are, it’s nice to see the buildings in three dimensions. So this post will focus on vintage and contemporary images of the Gloversville neighborhoods and buildings where Uncle Mike and Vincenzo “Jimmy” Del Negro (the oldest sibling) worked as shoe shiners.

Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor in context

The photo below shows the Second Empire style Kasson Opera House (later Memorial Hall) on N. Main St. in Gloversville, N.Y., in the early 1900s. Down the block at the right, before the trees, is a small building with a light awning. Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor, owned by Michael Del Negro, was located at 12 N. Main Street — in the building just before that awning, with a darker awning of its own.

Kasson Opera House (later Memorial Hall) on N. Main St. in Gloversville, N.Y. (circa 1907). Down the block at the right, before the trees, is a small building with a light awning. Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor, owned by Michael Del Negro, was located at 12 N. Main St. in the building before that awning — with a darker awning of its own. Photo: Front Page Gloversville.

Another view of the Kasson Opera House appears on the 1908 postcard below. The color photo shows how vibrant North Main Street was when Uncle Mike operated his shoe shine parlor there from about 1909 — when it was first listed in the Gloversville-Johnstown Business Directory.

Alas, Uncle Mike’s parlor doesn’t appear on the post card — it is off-camera past the white building on the right.  Yet the colorful awnings on neighboring shops and the abundance of pedestrian traffic indicate that North Main Street was a great location for his boot black shop.

Kasson Opera House and North Main Street commercial district, Gloversville, N.Y. (1908). Uncle Mike’s parlor was located off camera — past the white building on the right.  The colorful awnings and pedestrian traffic indicate this was a great location for his boot black shop. Photo: cinematreasures.org

Uncle Jimmy’s workplaces

While Uncle Mike operated his own parlor, the oldest Del Negro sibling — Uncle Jimmy — was successfully shining shoes elsewhere around town. One of the prominent places he worked was at The Kingsborough,  a Gloversville hotel located at 34 S. Main Street and shown on the post card below.

The Kingsborough hotel at 34 S. Main St., Gloversville, N.Y. (undated). James Del Negro was a shoe shiner at this hotel in the Gloversville business district.

The Renaissance Revival style Kingsborough hotel likely catered to spiffy out-of-town glove buyers and similar travelers — the perfect place for Uncle Jimmy to set up shop. He worked there from 1909 to 1911, according to his Gloversville-Johnstown Business Directory listings — and the hotel structure still stands, converted into the modern apartment building shown below.

The Kingsborough Apartments, Gloversville, N.Y. The former hotel, where Jimmy Del Negro shined shoes from 1909-1911, has been converted into a modern apartment building. Photo: apartments.com

One other place that Uncle Jimmy worked was at a parlor in the brick Italianate style flatiron building known as the Heacock Block at Gloversville’s Four Corners — the the former business district, now a historic district, where Main St. and Fulton St. intersect.

I was thrilled to discover that Uncle Jimmy shined shoes in this iconic corner building and that the storefront at 2 S. Main St., where he worked in 1906, is still there — shown below with blue-and-white striped awning.

Storefront at 2 S.Main St, Gloversville, N.Y. (2019). I was thrilled to discover that Uncle Jimmy shined shoes in this iconic corner building and that the storefront at 2 S. Main St., where he worked in 1906, is still there — shown below with blue-and-white striped awning. Photo: Google Maps/street view

Uncle Mike’s 1914 workplace

By 1914, Michael Del Negro had apparently given up his shoe shine parlor and was working a block away at 7 S. Main St — also in the Four Corners area and across the street from the flatiron building (above) where Jimmy once worked.

Windsor Hotel, Gloversville, N.Y. (Undated). In this vintage photo, the railroad ticket office where Uncle Mike worked was located in the yellow building at the far right. Photo: Pinterest

The building is now gone. However, the 1912 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Gloversville shows an Electric Railroad Waiting Room at 7 S. Main St. — right around the corner from the Windsor Hotel, which was demolished in 1977.

In the vintage photo above of the Windsor Hotel, the ticket office where Uncle Mike worked was located in the yellow building at the far right — another great location for a shoe shine stand.

Below is another photograph of the corner hotel and surrounding buildings, with a view up the block toward the ticket office — located at street level in the building labeled “Crockery.”

http://frontpagegloversville.squarespace.com/pictoral-history/hotels/
Windsor Hotel, Gloversville,N.Y. (Undated). The railroad ticket office where Uncle Mike shined shoes was located at street level in the building labeled “Crockery.” Photo: Front Page Gloversville

Contributing to Glovesville’s service economy

The glove industry was the financial driver of the Gloversville economy in the early 1900s — leading to a period of prosperity that can still be seen in the stately buildings that remain in the once-bustling commercial areas.

With this prosperity came a demand for ancillary services — shoe shining, junk collection and similar trades — that allowed my maternal Italian immigrant ancestors to survive and thrive, buy homes, raise families and play their own valuable roles in Gloversville’s community life. 

Which makes it such a pleasure to unearth and share their stories!

Up next: More on my Italian great-grandfather Peter Laurence/Di Lorenzo. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other.Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

1897-1912: Evolution of a Shoe Shine Parlor

Sepia Saturday 587. Thirteenth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

The previous post chronicled the 1906-1917 Gloversville, N.Y., shoe shine careers of Michael and Vincenzo “Jimmy” Del Negro — the brothers of my maternal Italian second great-grandmother Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio.

https://pixabay.com/photos/shoeshine-shoe-polish-shine-brush-72477/
Tools of the shoeshine trade. Photo: Pixabay

I wondered what more I could learn about the Del Negro brothers’ various work locations, which were listed in the Gloversville-Johnstown Business Directories. So I turned once more to Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for the next phase of their story.

Evolution of a shoe shine parlor

Michael Del Negro moved to Gloversville, N.Y., in the late 1800s — buying property in 1896 from his sister and her husband Antonio Curcio and moving in with the Curcio family by 1900.

By 1909, he was the proprietor of Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor at 12 N. Main Street — with a commercial listing under Boot Blacking in the Gloversville-Johnstown City Directory.[1]Gloversville, New York, City Directory, 1909, p. 385. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line accessed 9 Aug. 2021]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Which made me wonder: what was the evolution of his shoe shining parlor?

In 1897, a Cigar Store operated at 12 N. Fulton St in Gloversville, N.Y., a small yellow wedge labeled Cigars on the lower left of this map. By 1909, Michael Del Negro operated Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor from that location. What was the evolution of his parlor? Source: Library of Congress/Sanborn Map

The detail above — from an 1897 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Gloversville — shows that when Uncle Mike arrived in town, a cigar store operated at 12 N. Fulton St., the future premises his shoeshine parlor.

The tiny building labeled “Cigars” was a one-story, wedge-shaped wooden structure (yellow on the map) with a slate/tin roof in a long line of stores near the Kasson Opera House.

Uncle Mike builds his career

On the 1902 Sanborn map of Gloversville, the 12 N. Main St. building still housed a cigar store. However, on the 1907 map (see detail below) “Shoe Shining” was added to “Cigars” at that location — the same address Uncle Mike gave as his place of employment in the 1906 Gloversville-Johnstown Business Directory. The “x” indicates the tiny building then had a shingle roof.

https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3804gm.g3804gm_g059511907/?sp=21
In 1907, 12 N. Main St. offered Shoe Shining and Cigars as shown in this detail from the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Gloversville, N.Y. Michael Del Negro gave this as his work address in a 1906 city directory. Image: Library of Congress/Sanborn Maps

A shoe parlor of his own

Fast forward another five years and the cigar store is gone. The 1912 Sanborn map of Gloversville shows “Boot Black” as the sole business operating from 12 N. Main Street (below) — the address listed as Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor in the 1909 Gloversville-Johnstown Business Directory.

 https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3804gm.g3804gm_g059511912/?sp=8
By 1912, 12 N. Main St. was exclusively a Boot Black parlor as shown in this detail from the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Gloversville, N.Y. Michael Del Negro listed “Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor” at this address in a 1909 city directory. Image: Library of Congress/Sanborn Map

Not only that, but the neighborhood had improved. A fireproof bank with a clock dome had been constructed at the corner of E. Fulton St. and N. Main St., two doors down from Uncle Mike’s parlor — which undoubtedly added some foot traffic to his shop. And the shoe shine parlor had a black dot, indicating a composite roof.

Alas, the building that housed Uncle Mike’s shoe shine parlor at 12 N. Main St. has not survived — but many of the surrounding buildings have. In the next post, we’ll take a look at the once bustling Gloversville neighborhood that made shoe shining a successful career — including for Uncle Jimmy, who shined shoes at various other locations.

Up next: Modern and vintage photos of the Del Negro brothers’ workplaces. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

References

References
1 Gloversville, New York, City Directory, 1909, p. 385. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line accessed 9 Aug. 2021]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

1906-1917: The Del Negro brothers’ shoe parlor careers

Sepia Saturday 586. Twelfth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

In these days of low-priced, mass produced shoes — often made with synthetic components — it’s hard to imagine how important cobbler shops and shoe parlors were during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

However, in the 1800s and early 1900s, occupations like cobbler, shoemaker, shoe shiner and bootblack were significant, long-lasting careers that were integral to the creation, repair and maintenance of leather footwear — especially in the era of dusty, unpaved streets.

https://www.northcountryatwork.org/archive-items/hurlbut-and-prestons-boot-and-shoe-parlor-in-heuvelton/
Hurlbut & Preston’s Boot and Shoe Parlor, Heuvelton, St. Lawrence County, N.Y. (1890-1900). This shoe parlor was typical of many that existed in upstate New York, including Gloversville, during the heyday of leather footwear. Photo: northcountryatwork.org/Huevelton Historical Society.

Nowhere was this truer than in Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. — the U.S. home of my maternal Italian ancestors, many of whom were employed in tanning, glove making and other leather trades.

Which explains how the brothers of my second grand-grandmother Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio — Michael and Vincenzo “Jimmy” Del Negro — were able to earn a living working as bootblacks in various Gloversville locations.

A decade of shoe parlor work

To investigate where my second great-granduncles Mike and Jimmy lived and worked, I turned to previous research in the Gloversville and Johnstown Business Directories from 1906-1917 — both on microfilm at the NYS Archives and online. The table below summarizes what I found.

Michael and Jimmy DelNegro in Gloversville and Johnstown Business Directories – 1906-1917; Sources: NYS Archives & Ancestry
Year Name Residence Workplace Occupation
1906 Michael Del Negro h. 128 E. Fulton St. 12 N. Main St. Bootblack
1906 James Del Negro r. 128 E. Fulton St. 2 S. Main St. Bootblack
1909 Michael Del Negro h. 72 1/2 E. Fulton St. Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor at 12 N. Main St. Bootblack
1909 James Del Negro 41 Church St. The Hotel Kingsborough & 10 S. Main Bootblack
1910 & 1911 Michael Del Negro h. 72 1/2 E. Fulton St. 12 N. Main St. Bootblack
1910 & 1911 James Del Negro 41 Church St. The Hotel Kingsborough Bootblack
1914 – 1916 Michael Del Negro h. 72 1/2 E. Fulton St. 12 N. Main St. Bootblack
1914- 1917 James Del Negro h. 72 1/2 E. Fulton St. Bootblack
1917 Michael Del Negro h. 72 1/2 E. Fulton St. 7 S. Main St. Bootblack

A bustling glove manufacturing town

Detail from a 1912 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map showing Michael Del Negro’s two-story home at 72 1/2 E. Fulton Street toward the back of the property. Source: Library of Congress

Gloversville was a bustling glove manufacturing town when the Del Negro brothers were pursuing their service careers.

Hundreds of glove factories all over town — and in neighboring Johnstown — brought prosperity, as evidenced by the stately buildings that remain from that period.

There were busy hotels for visiting glove buyers, department stores with all manner of goods, cultural venues like the Kasson Opera House and a splendid Carnegie Free Library, which is still open and active.

In this environment, a shoe shine parlor could prosper. And my second great-granduncles Mike and Jimmy appear to have done well in their occupations.

The city directories show that Mike had his own parlor by 1909 — and he also bought a house at 72 1/2 E. Fulton St. (see map and photo).

His home was located down the street from his sister Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio and her family at 128 E. Fulton St. And their brother Jimmy eventually came to live with Mike and his family.

Former home of Michael Del Negro and family (2019). This is the house at 72 1/2 E. Fulton St in Gloversville, N.Y., as it looked in 2019 — one of the few homes of my maternal Italian relatives that remains standing today. Source: Google maps/street view

This made me curious about the Del Negro brothers’ various work locations. So I turned once more to Sanborn Fire  Insurance Maps for the next phase of their story.

Up next: Mapping the Del Negro Brothers Gloversville, N.Y., workplaces. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.