The Tirocchis began to assemble in Providence in the early years
of the twentieth century, joining over four million Italians who
entered the United States during the four decades prior to World
War I. In a classic chain migration, branches of the family settled
between 1905 and 1910 in the southwest corner of Providence at its
border with Cranston, an area referred to at the time as the Silver
Lake District. The Silver Lake Italian community, while not the
largest in the Providence area, had been a center of settlement
for immigrants from the later 19th century. It would
remain the locus for many of the future enterprises initiated by
the Tirocchi family.
Salvatore Tirocchi, an uncle to Frank, Anna, Laura, and Eugenia,
entered the U. S. with his two oldest sons in 1902. In 1907 his
wife Louisa arrived with their remaining five children. Frank Tirocchi
joined his uncle and cousins in 1905, and began working to help
support the immigration of his three sisters, still in Italy. Later
in 1905, Anna and Laura made the voyage, settling first in New York
City, the fashion capital of the U. S. and a city that must have
held great promise for the two dressmakers. Within a couple of years,
their sister Eugenia Valcarenghi and her family joined the sisters,
but soon all were disillusioned with New York and came to Providence
to join Frank and the other Tirocchi family members already there.
1910, Salvatore operated a cement block manufacturing enterprise,
while three of his sons, Gerardo, Giuseppe, and Augusto, worked
as laborers for a railroad, and a younger one, Luigi, worked for
the City. His single daughter, Elvira, worked as a spinner in a
worsted mill. Giovanni, the youngest son attended school, and Federico,
the oldest son, was a priest.
was working on the railroad as a labor contractor. The Valcarenghis
had opened an Italian grocery, which Eugenia operated while her
husband Luigi worked as a house painter. By 1911, Anna and Laura
had established A. & L. Tirocchi, their custom dressmaking
business, in the Butler Exchange Building downtown.
The Tirocchis all invested in real estate and established businesses
as soon as they could, rooting themselves in their new country.
The Valcarenghis bought their store and apartment building on Pocasset
Avenue, two blocks from Salvatore. In the Teens, Salvatore
and five of his sons developed the Rhode Island Improved Cement
Works Co. as well as the Rhode Island Laundry Company. By 1920,
Salvatore managed the Tirocchi Brothers Motor Trucking, which offered
local and long-distance trucking, and
Frank later established his own trucking firm to do business with
the City of Providence. After World War II, Salvatores sons
added a real estate firm to their family businesses. Anna Tirocchi
invested in real estate throughout her life. Other Tirocchi family
members established the Tirocchi Cement Block Company, the Rhode
Island Column Company, the Ideal Concrete Products Co., and auto
The Tirocchis immigrated in search of greater economic opportunity.
Once here, they displayed unusual entrepreneurial spirit and talent.
Family solidarity was an important asset in the Tirocchi successes
in Providence. Frank and Anna invested together in a pharmacy in
the early years. Anna and her brother-in-law, Dr. Louis J. Cella,
invested together in commercial real estate properties. At times,
family members made loans to Annas business. In turn, she
contributed economically to other family members - Franks
trucking business was the beneficiary of a number of payments from
Anna over the years. She also paid off a mortgage he and Maria had
contracted in 1917. Dr. Cella maintained his office in Eugenias
Pocasset business block for some years after he married Laura in
1915, and moved his practice into 514 Broadway after additional
construction. Frank also served as an agent in the management of
Dr. Cella's farm.
Salvatore Tirocchis initial immigration established the Tirocchis
in Providence at the turn of the twentieth century. Primrose Tirocchi,
Franks daughter, recalled that a man once said to her father,
probably in the heat of a dispute, "Sell your trucks and go
back to Italy." Frank reportedly replied, "Im just
as much an American now as you are. Why should I go back to Italy?"
>> read on about Frank