To the editor:
I am writing to request assistance in preserving the North Bronx childhood home of Adelina Patti, the most famous 19th century singer. Modern day diva Patti Lupone is her great-grand niece.
Adelina Patti was the first diva, and was able to overcome sexism of the era. Adelina was a progressive Victorian woman who lived with a man before marriage, which was very rare at the time, and she was discriminated against as a result. She is one of the first Victorian women to help us get out of corsets.
Adelina was an immigrant to New York, and a social justice advocate. She treated her staff like family, which was unheard of at the time. She provided her staff with medical leave and pensions.
While in New York, Adelina suffered discrimination because her family was Italian and her parents were opera singers. Her father, Salvatore Patti, struggled financially after his Astor Place Opera House went bankrupt after the infamous Astor Place Riot. Her parents used her money as a child prodigy to build the Wakefield home (which is now in the Bronx). It was the first brick house in the area, built in 1855.
Adelina’s childhood home is at 4718 Matilda Ave., which was once part of Westchester County. When the records were transferred, errors were made and her house has been forgotten about.
A comprehensive title search through Westchester historical societies and Bronx records reveals this is the correct house. The house is mentioned and pictured in her biography “Queen of Hearts.” It’s also mentioned in the book “History of the Bronx.”
Adelina Patti was almost as famous as Queen Victoria in her day. She sang for Queen Victoria as well as President Lincoln, and thousands of others all over Europe, North America, and South America. All of our great-grandparents were big fans of hers.
Her other homes in Manhattan were torn down decades ago. Adelina’s home deserves protection as a landmark status. Her other homes in Europe have recognition and protection.
New York City is currently reviewing all of the historical documents on this home. They are currently building condos all around the area. The proximity to the Metro-North makes this block desirable for development as it’s a 30-minute ride to Manhattan.
Please help preserve Adelina’s legacy for future generations. Please email the city’s landmark preservation commission and tell them to preserve the Adelina Patti home in Wakefield by giving it official New York City landmark status.
Emails from the public can greatly help the cause to firstname.lastname@example.org.