The year 1915 was one of major transitions for Anna and Laura Tirocchi. Laura married a young American-born physician, Louis J. Cella. Anna purchased the handsome house at 514 Broadway and moved the couple, herself, and the sisters' business in. At the time, the City Directory did not record any Italians in that stretch of Broadway, or on the streets that intersected it. There were, however, eleven dressmakers and seven tailors on the street, with an even larger concentration of men’s and ladies’ tailors working a few blocks south, on Broad Street.

Once again, Madame Tirocchi, as Anna was known, had chosen a prime location. The Butler Exchange building in downtown Providence had had its early advantages, attracting new clients to the business. With an established clientele, the sisters could now afford to move to more gracious quarters.

The presence of dressmaking establishments in the area, along with the proximity of Broadway to downtown Providence and the fashionable East Side, where most of the Tirocchis’ local clients lived, made the neighborhood a suitable one for the next phase of their business. It was no accident that 514 Broadway was one of the largest and most ornate on Broadway. Madame Tirocchi wanted to be able to receive her genteel clientele in gracious surroundings that mirrored their own homes and clubs.

Anna also seems to have had ambitions toward the couture, or custom design, end of the dressmaking trade, and must have felt that an elegant salon atmosphere would further this portion of her business. She stocked luxurious fabrics, trims, and notions, which she acquired from suppliers in Europe and New York City and on occasional buying trips to Europe, and she fashioned original gowns from them. In the Fall of 1926, Anna had announcements printed advertising the Winter Collection. By this time, she was using the name Di Renaissance for the shop and listing herself as manager. In the announcement, she offered clients "Line, Color, Detail, Distinction, Individuality," fashion qualities that were hard to find in department stores. This emphasis on individual attention and service–the hallmark of a successful dressmaker–enabled her to remain in business during a period of intense reorganization of the women’s apparel industry.

Atmosphere mattered to the Tirocchis’ clients and undoubtedly influenced their buying. Upon entering the house, clients would be ushered past Dr. Cella’s private office and the formal parlor, or music room, and up the grand stairs to the second floor. The dressmaking business completely occupied this floor, with showroom, fitting rooms, office and stock rooms. The second floor functioned as the public sphere where customers interacted with Anna, Laura, and other shop employees.

Anna filled the showroom, or Billiard Room, with her precious silk velvets, brocaded lamés, and laces. The billiard table was often covered with artistically draped bolts of fabric for customers to admire. Husbands would also wait in this room and would, at times, uncover the table and pass the time playing billiards. Two fitting rooms, called the Red Room and the Blue Room after the color of the carpets, also occupied the second floor. These rooms were even more comfortably furnished than the Billiard Room and were the rooms in which the clients discussed their orders with Madame Tirocchi and stood for their fittings.

In the first decade at 514 Broadway, the Tirocchi shop seemed to do well. Customers enjoyed and appreciated the well-appointed rooms of the shop, and the fact that the shop was located in a beautiful home near their own neighborhood. Some customers even teased Anna that her house was better than theirs was, but they clearly felt at home in the atmosphere she had created for them. Her best clients coveted her custom dressmaking services, and she still provided all the traditional services expected of a seamstress. However, ready-made clothing was becoming increasingly stylish and available, and began to cut seriously into the shop’s business.

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  The Family
  The Business
      Butler Exchange
      Move to 514 Broadway
      The Middle Years
      Last Days
  The Clients
  The Workers




The changes in the A&L Tirocchi shop mirror historic trends in the history of Providence.

The announcements, and other papers have been important resources for Tirocchi researchers.