BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The old building at the corner of Hertel and Delaware avenues is full of history. It's been closed since the early 2000's, but one group has been working to bring culture back to this corner.
“This is for Buffalo. Buffalo has been generous to welcome me and to welcome many many immigrants and this is our gift to Buffalo and our community," said Dr. Frank Giacobbe, who came to America in 1960 and raised his family in North Buffalo.
He made sure to teach his children Italian culture, but after speaking to his grandson in Italian and realizing he didn't understand, Giacobbe felt it fading away.
"Oh my God I said to my wife, our kids spoke Italian first language, but our grandchildren don’t," said Dr. Giacobbe.
So he founded Centro Culutrale Italiano Di Buffalo (CCI Buffalo) to teach the Italian language to the community. And what began as a way to preserve the language is now expanding into an entire building to celebrate culture.
"This has been a long time coming, we feel strongly that we have a lot to offer, a lot to give back to the community and we feel like it’s our duty to do that," said Mario Giacobbe, VP of CCI Buffalo and Frank's son.
What used to be the North Park library, will now be the Italian Cultural Center.
"We see it as a community anchor that used to be, will be again," said John Vecchio, Executive Director.
Featuring a cafe, storytelling room, a teaching kitchen, auditorium and more.
"We have promoted the idea of not just Italian language, but Italian culture, art, exhibits," said Dr. Giacobbe.
They stress that help from other Italians in the community is what's helped them move things forward. It’s a project that’s attracting a lot of attention.
"So many people from this community have come by and said this used to be my library and I'm so glad to see life here again," said Lindsey Lauren Visser.
Something they want to share with everyone in our community.
"So many people here in Buffalo have an immigration story somewhere in their history so even if you’re not Italian, coming here and celebrating that spirit and determination of all the people who came before us," said Visser.
The goal is to do some finishing touches and cut the ribbon in August. They’ll host events and classes for people to enjoy, but they really want this to feel like somewhere you can stop by, grab a coffee and hang out in your community. Somewhere to feel at home.
For updates, check out the CCI Buffalo Instagram Page and the CCI Buffalo Facebook Page.