Little Italy

Peluso built a large rectangular home facing the stream where the foot bridge crosses to the mill site. It was a two-story house with a half attic in the center of and below the eaves of the roof. The house faced a square where a small store was built on the north side. Heating pipes from the store to the house basement served as a passageway, and a wine press was set up where grapes in large barrels could be quickly rolled out of sight.

Palmer DiNardo built a second store, and Little Italy became a settlement, a neighborhood distinct from the remainder of Millinocket. By the mid 1930s, the Company relocated the small houses down river and two new streets were opened. The land was leased to those who wanted to live there, then sold to those who wanted to own their own homes.

Among the early Italian families were those carrying surnames such as Angotti, Brigalli, Caruso, Civiello, DiCentes, DiNardo, Gagliardi, Manzo, Mosca, Pasquine, Peluso, and others.

Little Italy grew to become a distinct neighborhood, separated from the rest of Millinocket by language and culture. Even today, there are those, not of Italian ancestry, who can remember when they dared not trespass into Little Italy.

Gradually, the barriers were broken down, as children grew up speaking English rather than Italian. As is the case everywhere, there was both good and bad in that.

But the Italians weren’t the only people brought in to build the Great Northern. Laborers imported from Europe included Poles, Finns, Lithuanians, and Hungarians. They moved rocks and earth, building the dams and constructing the foundations of the mill buildings themselves.

© Michelle Anderson 2005-2014