Casa Italiana

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Casa Italiana
2014 Columbia University Casa Italiana 1161 Amsterdam Avenue.jpg
Casa Italiana is located in New York City
Casa Italiana
Casa Italiana is located in New York
Casa Italiana
Casa Italiana is located in the United States
Casa Italiana
Location1151-1161 Amsterdam Ave., New York, New York
Coordinates40°48′27″N 73°57′37″W / 40.80750°N 73.96028°W / 40.80750; -73.96028Coordinates: 40°48′27″N 73°57′37″W / 40.80750°N 73.96028°W / 40.80750; -73.96028
Architectural styleItalian Renaissance
NRHP reference #82001188[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 29, 1982
Designated NYCLMarch 28, 1978[2]

Casa Italiana is a building of Columbia University located at 1161 Amsterdam Avenue between West 116th and 118th Streets in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, which houses the university's Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America. It was built in 1926-27 and was designed by William M. Kendall of McKim, Mead & White in the Renaissance style, modeled after a 15th-century Roman palazzo.[3] The building was restored, and the east facade completed, in 1996 by Buttrick White & Burtis with Italo Rota as associate architect.


In the 1920s, Italian student clubs at Columbia and Barnard mobilized support for a Casa Italiana project. Columbia President Nicholas Butler embraced the idea. The Casa campaign was led in New York by the students and by Judge John J. Freschi (who helped raise money), the Paterno brothers developers (who also donated much of the construction work), and others. Some support came from abroad: Italy’s Fascist leader Benito Mussolini expressed enthusiasm, but he promised more than he gave. (Records show only some scholarship funding from the Fascist government, and a pledge of antique furniture “to be obtained in Italy through the help of Mussolini”—but this donation never materialized, and the furnishings and artwork came instead from domestic patrons.)[4]

McKim, Mead & White, the firm responsible for the layout of Columbia’s campus, created an impressive neo-Renaissance design for the Casa Italiana with limestone cladding all over, which set it apart from all other buildings on campus except for the imposing Low Library. Modeled on Roman palazzi of the Renaissance, the building opened in 1927. The Paterno brothers generously gave books and funding for the Casa’s original library. They and others continued giving so rapidly that, by 1930, it was clear that the collection would outgrow the Casa and be transferred. Indeed, the Paterno Collection is now accessible in the campus’s Butler Library. In the early 1990s, Columbia relocated the Italian Department from the Casa Italiana to its current home in Hamilton Hall and the Casa building became the seat of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies, a premier global center for research in the humanities and sciences.[5]

Casa Italiana represents one of three buildings on the Columbia's campus landmarked by the city of New York, having achieved that status in 1978.[3] It was also added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ "NYCLPC Designation Report"
  3. ^ a b New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Dolkart, Andrew S.; Postal, Matthew A. (2009), Postal, Matthew A. (ed.), Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.), New York: John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1, p.195
  4. ^ "From Da Ponte to the Casa Italiana: A Brief History of Italian Studies at Columbia University". Italian Academy for Advanced Studies - Columbia University. 2017-11-09. Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  5. ^ "From Da Ponte to the Casa Italiana: A Brief History of Italian Studies at Columbia University". Italian Academy for Advanced Studies - Columbia University. 2017-11-09. Retrieved 2019-04-29.

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