Little Italy Resident Protests Italian American Museum’s Treatment of Old Lady

April 20, 2015 | Liam Mathews

Ernest Magliato’s family donated a historic statue of the Madonna del Soccorso to Little Italy’s Italian American Museum back in 2009. Now, he wants to take his gift back over the museum’s treatment of Adele Sarno, the 85-year-old Italian woman who has lived at 185 Grand Street for 53 years.

“Why should [museum founder and president Joseph V. Scelsa] have a piece of our history if he’s trying to get rid of a piece of history?” Magliatio told DNAinfo (no comment from Sarno about how she feels about being called “a piece of history”).

The Italian American Museum owns Sarno’s building and wants to expand from 187 Grand Street into 185 as well. The organization told Sarno it was raising the rent from $850 to $3,500 five years ago. Sarno has been in a court battle with the museum since.

Immigrants brought the Magliato family’s statue to New York at the turn of last century and used it as part of the celebration of the Madonna del Soccorso’s feat day, which took over part of Elizabeth Street every June until the 1970s. The Madonna del Soccorso, also known as Our Lady of Perpetual Help, is the patron saint of Sciacca, Sicily.

(Photo: Eden, Janine, and Jim)