Road to the Past: Mary Street
Every block in Utica has its own story — about
people, about relationships and about change. The story of the 700
block of Mary Street begins in the early 19th century, when Utica’s
founders began to carve blocks out of farmland. Time has shaped
the block, changed it physically. But its welcoming tradition has
endured. Italians, Irish, African-Americans, Bosnian refugees and
others who have put down roots on Mary Street contribute to the
street’s continuing story.
The four corners
The 34 houses on the 700 block of Mary Street are
framed by commercial activity and gathering places. Here’s a look
at each corner:
614 Kossuth Ave.
At first glance, you’d never guess that three different
mom-and-pop grocery stores occupied the apartment building on the
corner of Mary Street and Kossuth Avenue.
Catherine and Anthony Longo owned and operated Longo’s
for more than 30 years until the early 1980s. This boded well for
at least one student. Thalia DeSantis, who attended St. Agnes grammar
school across the street, recalls buying penny candy, ice cream
and Hostess cupcakes from Longo’s. ”What I remember so vividly was
waiting for lunch hour ... and sneaking across the street without
getting caught from the nuns,” she says.
Before Longo’s, Anthony Marica ran a grocery during
the late 1940s. Sportelli’s, owned by Frank Sportelli, occupied
the space from 1926 to 1943.
Stop Market / Pecorello’s
625 Albany St.
If persistence paid off, Hasim Ferkic would be a
But after playing the lotto twice a week for seven
years, the Mary Street resident has only netted $15.
He always plays the same numbers at 1 Stop Market,
which sits on the northwest corner of Mary and Albany streets.
His lucky (or not so lucky) numbers are 09-14-16-21-25-39.
Their significance? Family birthdays, his age and the month when
the Bosnian resettled in Utica.
The market is a popular stop for neighborhood residents
and has a long history.
Before 1998, it was Pecorello Bros. Market. Brothers
Ed and Jerry Jr. opened in the mid-1940s, selling staples such as
milk and meat.
But Jodi Meeker of 713 Albany St. remembers the friendliness
of the two brothers more than the groceries she bought there.
“They knew your name,” Meeker says. “I can
still picture Jerry teasing the heck out of me.”
/ Pescatore’s / Medino’s
705 Albany St.
Most remember the building on the southwest corner
of Albany and Mary streets as Pescatore’s, a popular Italian restaurant
that opened in the early ’60s.
Steak sandwiches were the specialty of the house,
says Mary Teresa Mercurio of Mary Street. She should know. Her husband
Frank worked as a cook there.
Today, the building houses Europa Foods, a popular
Bosnian restaurant. Before Europa, however, it was a nightclub and
another Italian restaurant called Medino’s.
Mary Street resident Gerald Talerico remembers it
as Mangano’s, a confectionary store where he once made a nickel
taking out the ashes from the coal-burning fires that heated the
building, he says.
Not bad, considering candy only cost a penny back
St. Agnes Church and rectory
700 Kossuth Ave.
St. Agnes Church, on the corner of Blandina Street
and Kossuth Avenue, has withstood more than a century of time, witnessed
a changing neighborhood and survived a fire that threatened its
The brick and stone Romanesque-style church, built
116 years ago, served Utica’s Irish Roman Catholic families who
lived east of Mohawk Street. A rectory, parochial school and convent
As the neighborhood changed from Irish to Italian,
many of St. Agnes’s parishioners changed, too. While most Italians
attended St. Mary of Mount Carmel on Jay Street, Marie DelGado,
who grew up at 766 Mary St., went to the church down the block.
She received communion and was confirmed and married at St. Agnes.
DelGado remembers the cold morning of Feb. 24, 1947,
when a fire broke out in the church. Her uncle, up at 5 a.m. for
his job at the railroad, woke the family. ”We went down to the corner
and watched it burn,” DelGado says of the three-alarm fire that
injured seven firemen and claimed the church’s wooden roof and 155-foot
steeple. “I’ll never forget the stench. It stayed with us for months.”
The rebuilt church, complete with a new rose medallion
stained glass window, was dedicated October 3, 1948.
– Profiles written by Lindsay
Mary Street timeline
Utica landowner Rutger Bleecker names
Mary Street after his daughter, Mary Morris.
Mid 1800s: Most of East Utica was farmland
owned by Thomas E. Clark, a prominent lawyer in Utica. His daughter,
Harriet C. Wood, inherited the land after his death in 1857.
1887: Harriet C. Wood re-allotted the
farm and began to sell off the lots.
1887: St. Agnes Church is built.
1890s: Irish families move to Mary Street.
1910 through 1930s: More than two dozen
Italian families move to Mary Street.
1914: Adresses change to current numbering
Around 1920: Most current homes are
February 1947: Fire breaks out at St.
1980s and 1990s: Many homes sold. East
Utica begins to decline from absentee landlords, drugs and crime.
1997: First two Bosnian families move
to Mary Street.
2003: Ten Bosnian families own homes
on Mary Street.