The Ente Friulano Assistenza Sociale Culturale Emigranti (EFASCE) di Pordenone has evolved from an organization first established in 1907 called “Segretariato di Emigrazione.” In the periods following both World Wars, during times of poverty and reconstruction, millions emigrated from all regions of Italy to many corners of the world. Hearing cries for help coming from Friulan emigrants, the Bishop of Concordia responded by delegating some diocesan priests to support his emigrants in faraway lands.
After more than a century EFASCE exists today as parent to many adjunct entities around the globe, with a mission of continued cultivation of the ethnic identity and indissoluble bonds which still connect Friulans and their descendents throughout the world to their homeland.
EFASCE di Philadelphia – History
EFASCE di Philadelphia was established in Chestnut Hill in 2008, to help promote renewed interactive relationships with the Friulan-American community in the Philadelphia region, the US and other Pordenonesi of the world. Through various social and educational events and programs, we strive to make the homeland feel closer for our Friulan emigrants and their descendants.
Many Friulans settled locally in the Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia. Italy’s loss soon became Philadelphia’s gain. Skilled masons were employed to quarry, cut and erect the sparkling Wissahickon Schist stone which has been used to construct many prominent residences in Chestnut Hill. Accomplished craftsmen and artisans still work at many local companies providing skilled stone masons, bricklayers, and tile-marble-terrazzo craftsmen.
Although EFASCE di Philadelphia was not established until 2008, there has been a thriving cultural link between Friulans in the area for more than a century. The photo below taken in 1924 shows some members of the Friulano community enjoying a day of relaxation at the “Baraca” (shed, shown to the right). Recognizing the need for a more permanent meeting place efforts were made for the purchase of a property at 8030 Germantown Avenue, previous site of The John Gilbert Elementary School. This prominent building in the heart of Chestnut Hill remains the home of The Venetian Social Club today.
The Venetian Club, affectionately dubbed “The Club” by many, has remained a place for fun, friendship, and fellowship for over 85 years. Many social events including evening dinner dances featuring alpine music, sports banquets, holiday parties and similar events have taken place in the ballroom over the years. The Club has provided a needed tie between the “Old” and “New” worlds, where Friulans could socialize and speak their native language amongst family and friends. Bocce and tennis courts on the adjacent lot no longer exist, however the Club still features a game room with card tables, pool and shuffle board; full size ballroom with a stage; bowling facilities; and a full service bar (for members only).