In Recognition of the Dante Club’s 100Th Year Anniversaryby Representative Richard E. Neal
Posted on 2015-12-08
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Mr. NEAL. Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to
recognize the 100th year anniversary of the Dante Club in West
Springfield, Massachusetts. The Dante Club has served as a place for
Italians to embrace their culture, celebrate their history, and promote
athleticism. Today, the Dante Club has over 900 members, a competitive
racquetball league, and hosts widely attended social and cultural
events throughout the year.
On November 7, 1915, a group of Italian men gathered in Springfield with the goal of creating a club promoting ``culture, good fellowship, athletics, and good American citizenship.'' They named the club after Dante Alighieri, a highly acclaimed Italian poet and constructor of the Italian language. The Dante Club originally only accepted Italian members and sons of Italians, but later eased its membership restrictions, allowing men of other ethnic groups married to Italian women. In 1935, the Dante Women's Club division was formed, and in 1963 the Club's constitution was amended, allowing non-Italians to become members.
The Dante Club purchased its first site in 1924 in West Springfield. Thirty years later, the Club received notice that its property would be taken away in order to construct the Route 5 highway, so the members purchased the old Memorial School Building in West Springfield. This remains its current home today. The Club has had numerous improvements since its founding, and now includes a kitchen, banquet hall, and health center with racquetball courts. The Dante Club hosts a successful racquetball league, which runs from September to May of every year and includes six divisions with over 100 players. The health center was opened in 1970, and has trained several notable athletes, including the Michigan State hockey coach Amo Bessone, and Gene Grazia, 1960 U.S. Hockey Team Olympic Gold Medalist.
Mr. Speaker, the Dante Club's founders have succeeded in organizing a center in America to preserve and celebrate Italian culture and values, while fostering friendships and promoting athleticism and community. I wish the Dante Cub the best in its future endeavors, and look forward to watching it prosper for years to come.