As Hibbing’s leaders began to plan where to move the town to get out of the way of the mining interests, they looked south.
Frank Hibbing had, from the very earliest days of the town, encouraged townspeople to “look south,” because his prospecting told him that the richest ore deposits did not extend very far in that direction. He was certain, despite the denials from the mining companies, that eventually the ground under the original town site would be dug up for its iron ore. When World War I began, with iron needed and fast, his prediction came true. The Oliver Mining Company began to expand the Hull-Rust Mine and people needed to vacate the land where the growing town of Hibbing was located.
A beautiful park, Bennett Park, had opened along 3rd Avenue in 1914. It quickly became a favorite spot for Hibbingites, and some merchants and homeowners saw the advantages of working and living “in the suburbs” south of the main Hibbing town site. Also, another mile south, was the location town of Alice. These southern areas were soon to become the “New Hibbing”.
Park Addition, as I know from friends who grew up there, was a neighborhood with its own “vibe” and strong fraternal ties. It grew around 3rd Avenue and expanded east along the southern edge of Bennett Park.
In the summer of 1972, Park Addition held a huge reunion attended by more than 400 people. Co-chairs for the reunion were Mike Bonicatto and Mary Bendett Brockway. She said that the reunion planning began two years earlier when a group of 35 Park Addition men got together but didn’t invite the women!
People came from all parts of the country in 1972. Prizes were awarded for all sorts of things. These included a prize for the first reservation made by someone in Hibbing, attendees who had lived in Park Addition prior to 1932, longest married attendees, and largest family, among many other awards.
Many notes and letters were sent to the reunion committee with stories about life in Park Addition in “the good old days.” Some of these were printed in the Hibbing Daily Tribune. Among those published was a long letter from Mathilda (Tillie) Avenatti Buzzelli, Hibbing High School Class of 1923. Parts of her wonderful reminiscing were published on August 3 and August 4, 1972. Here are some segments of her letter. Obviously, since this letter was written in 1972, many changes have occurred in the years since she wrote to the reunion committee. So to her original letter I have made note of a few of those changes. I will also be doing another Years of Yore page about Park Addition in the future.
~ Mary Palcich Keyes
I received my invitation to attend the Park Addition reunion recently. This brought back many fond memories.
Back in 1920, I remember my dad informing the family that he was planning on buying a lot and building our home in South Hibbing, then known as Alice. He had contacted Mr. O.E. Frederick from the Frederick Lumber Company, which was located near the Great Northern Railroad tracks on First Avenue in Park Addition. I remember that he told my dad that the area where he had lots for sale would be close to the main street and shopping area. Not having a car, the location of the lot impressed my parents. Dad purchased two lots which were located at 129 Jackson Street, which is now known as 129 East 18th Street. Our home was built by the Frederick Lumber Company (which later was sold to Max Gray) and we moved into our new home in 1921.
I was attending the Lincoln High School in North Hibbing. I walked back and forth to school many times. Our class was to be the first to graduate from the new Hibbing High School, but due to incomplete work in the auditorium we had to have our graduation at the Lincoln High School in June of 1923.
My dad was a lover of flowers and music. Our yard was beautiful with a good variety of flowers. In the rear of the yard, my dad built a screened bug house. In this he placed a couple of benches (ask Rita Martinelli Salmi how they were acquired!) and his phonograph. He had a very good selection of records and would sit for hours playing his phonograph and smoking his pipe.
Next door to us lived the Pacifico Martinelli family, very good neighbors and friends to our family. They were Tyrolians. My dad would play the record “Giovenza” and Pacifico Martinelli would call out “Via Austria.” The two of them enjoyed visiting and playing the records. Denny Martinelli still lives in the family home. Many years after my dad passed away, our home was sold to Vincent Forti. (This home is still there, now owned by a descendant of the Silver family.)
A few doors down from us was the Italian Hall. About twice a month, parties and dances were held there. I can remember going to the dances, of course always chaperoned by my mother. The Italians in Hibbing had some wonderful times at the Italian Hall. In 1925, my wedding shower was held there. The Hall was later sold and made into apartments. (The Italian Hall was located at 117 Jackson Street, now 18th Street.)
I can remember some of the merchants in our neighborhood. The Tony Mobile Store on the east corner of Jackson Street (18th Street) and Third Avenue, which was a confectionery store. Next to it was the Gordon and Rossen Store. Both buildings have since been torn down to make room for the Senior Citizens apartment building. (This building is now called the Park Terrace Apartments and is no longer just for senior citizens.)
Across the street and going towards Bennett Park on the corner of Third Avenue and 16th Street was the popular little popcorn stand operated by Peter Karlos. Down a few doors was the “Littlest Biggest Store” owned and operated by Dominic Silver. This store is still in business. (After Silver’s closed, the building became a pet store called Fish, Fish, and Fish. The building was eventually torn down and a house is there now.) Not too far down the street was the shoemaker shop operated by Alphonso Pistilli. This was a popular place as many of the young Italian men would meet to – as the saying goes – chew the fat.
Down on the corner, across the street from the Tony Mobile store, was the old Princess Theatre building which had been moved from North Hibbing. It was first used to house the Hibbing Police Department. Weekends were always a busy time for the police department. Later, this building was used as an elementary school by the school district. It was then sold to Guy Tomassoni who operated a grocery store for many years. It has since been remodeled into apartments. The Tomassonis still reside there. (The Tomassonis have passed away and this building is now called the Golden Nugget Apartments.)
On the corner, across the street from the old Princess Theatre building was the Aubin Studio, owned and operated by Paul Aubin, Senior. Paul lived upstairs and was very active until recently when he passed away. Aubin’s Studio is still in business, operated by his son, Paul Aubin, Junior. In the rear of the studio was a beauty salon. It was convenient to come home and just go across the street to have your hair done. This space was later converted into an apartment. (The building now houses a pet grooming business and apartments. The Hibbing Historical Society was given the Aubin photo collection by the descendants of Paul Aubin.)
Next door to the photo studio was the grocery store owned by James Checco. It was known for its many Italian imports. Guy Tomassoni operated his store there for a short while also before moving down the street. The building is now occupied by the Checco Tavern. Mrs. Checco and her daughter still reside upstairs. (Checco’s Tavern is still a popular spot, owned and operated by the family.)
Down further was the Thornton Plumbing Shop which was in business for many years. It was later sold, but I do not recall who purchased it. It was again sold and now houses the Morrissey Glass Company, known now as Hibbing Glass. The Sunrise Bakery is still located on the same spot as back when I was a child, next door to the glass company. It has been enlarged, but carries on the business which was started by Gulio Forti. My mother, Angela Avenatti Cobetto and Mrs. Forti were very dear friends. The business is now operated by the four Forti children: Vince, Santi, Geno, and Ada (Mrs. Tom Hjort). (Both of these buildings are now empty. Sunrise Bakery and Sunrise Deli, both owned and operated by descendants of Gulio Forti, can be found on 1st Avenue.)