The history of the Colombo Club is a story that begins with early Italian immigrants and their desire to preserve and celebrate Italian cultural traditions, customs and heritage in the United Sates. In 1919 Maggiorino Lovisone offered the use of the basement in his house at 2037 Pleasant Valley Road in Oakland, as a gathering place for local Piemontese. By 1920, these gatherings had become well ingrained in the total livelihood of twenty two of these men and idea had been discussed of forming a club that would offer ongoing social contact, preserve and pass on traditions and afford the members and their families a permanent place to gather for playing cards, playing bocce ball, eating dinner and dancing. Friendships and close family ties resulted. These “club” fellowship gatherings at the Lovisone residence evolved to become the Colombo Club, founded on August 22, 1920 by 22 men, all from the Piemonte region of Italy.
On May 29, 1922 the Colombo Club incorporated, the charter was granted and the members contributed $250 each to purchase a parcel of Oakland property at 4915 Broadway. Dinner dances were held frequently. The building provided a tremendous sense of pride and belonging to the men and families who called the Colombo Club their own. The club provided traditional Italian dinners 6 or 7 times a year, comparable to the dinners served at the club today for $1.50 for both members and guests.
By 1949, the Club had outgrown the building and looked for a new home. The sale of the building, plus bank loans and member loans, provided the necessary funds to purchase the land and begin construction on the present building on Claremont Avenue which was completed in December 1951.
The Colombo Club, a longtime hub for the mutual benefit of the Italian-American community, boasts a host of renowned visitors; athletes, civic leaders and politicians alike. Among the athletes were Billy Martin, Ernie Lombardi of the Cincinnati Reds, Rocky Marciano, Harry “Cookie” Lavagetto of the Washington Senators and Brooklyn Dodgers third baseman, Dario Modigliani of the Philadelphia Athletics. Martinez-born Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio who signed with the New York Yankees in 1936, visited the club in 1958. Hall of Famer Leo Nomellini was a member of the club. Recently local baseball stars like Vida Blue and Ricky Henderson have enjoyed dinners at the club. Club dinner dances are very popular with some events numbering over 500 people.
Today, the Colombo Club is recognized as one the largest active Italian social clubs in the United States. Firmly committed to the ideals of our founding fathers, we strive to provide our “famiglia” and their guests with social activities that honor our heritage and preserve our traditions.
The gatherings of the original group of men who longed for companionship and a connection to their homeland, has grown to a fraternity of 900 members, dedicated to preserving the Italian culture while expressing gratitude to be considered citizens of the greatest country in the world; the United States of America.
“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”Marcus Tullius Cicero
The Columbo Club Charter Members
C. Merlone, P. Puppione, A. Faldi, C. Maffei, L. Botto, M. Lovisone, D. Graziano, S. Orio, L. Galletti, J. Orio, L. Razzano, J. Parena, F. Graziano, B. Goria, A. Morra, O. Gaia, C. Gentile, M. Gratian, E. Sburlati, T. Basso, G. Ollino, D. Damonte, A. Manacorda, E. Borelo, C. Pastrone, B. Rainero, V. Cafasso, P. Meda, G. Beccio, F. Poletto, L. Ferraris, F. Cafasso, J. Negro, M. Maggiora