Early life and education
Parducci was born in Buti, Italy, a small village near Pisa, and immigrated to New York City in the United States in 1904. At a young age, he was sponsored by heiress/sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and sent to art school. He attended the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design and Art Students League. His teachers included anatomist George Bridgman and sculptor Albin Polasek.
Training and career
Parducci was apprenticed to architectural sculptor Ulysses Ricci in 1917. While working for Ricci, and later while in the Anthony DiLorenzo studio, his work came to the attention of Detroit architect Albert Kahn.
In 1924 Parducci traveled to Detroit to work for Kahn, only planning to stay for a few months. However, with the automotive industry booming in the 1920s, Parducci moved his family to Michigan and ended up spending the rest of his career working from Detroit. One of Parducci's known Detroit studios was located at Cass Ave. and Sibley St., but it has been demolished. Parducci's studio had tall windows which illuminated his work. Parducci’s work can be found on many of the Detroit area’s finest buildings including from churches, schools, banks, hospitals and residences.
His sculptures can be found in most major Michigan cities including Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Flint, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Marquette, Royal Oak, Saginaw, and Ypsilanti. By the end of his long and productive career, Parducci’s efforts adorned about 600 buildings.
The last commission Parducci completed was a portrait of architect Henry Hobson Richardson in a Romanesque setting that was carved on a lintel in the Senate chamber of the New York State Capitol in Albany, New York in 1980.
Although Parducci worked in a variety of styles, notably Romanesque, Classical, Renaissance and even Aztec/Mayan/Pueblo Deco, it was his pioneering of the Greco Deco style for which he is best remembered.
Parducci’s Detroit Masonic Temple lobby
Anthony Di Lorenzo, New York ornamentalist, held two contracts for interior decoration in the Detroit Masonic Temple - #1 (Corrado Parducci) $13,160.00 and #2 for $9,680.00. Thomas Di Lorenzo’s contract for interior decoration amounted to $59,074.00. Joe (Corrado) Parducci worked in the New York firm of Ricci, DiLorenzo and Aldolino as a very young man. When the firm broke up, he stayed with DiLorenzo who was an ornamentalist and Parducci was the sculptor. Parducci met Albert Kahn in New York City who urged him to come to Detroit and work on two bank buildings on Griswold Street. Parducci came to Detroit to work for only a couple of months. Anthony DiLorenzo had some work here and Kahn wanted Parducci. He worked indirectly for Kahn through DiLorenzo. Other work came from Detroit architects Donaldson & Meier, Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, and George D. Mason.
The first 8 months, 1924 to middle of 1925, Joe worked under DiLorenzo. The Masonic Temple contracts were DiLorenzos’ jobs until Parducci bought them out for $5,000.00.
William F. Gurche had the contract for the exterior sculpture. Henry Steinman, a New York sculptor working in the Detroit studio of William F. Gurche, sculpted the Tylers on the four towers of the Ritual Building. Leo Friedlander, a New York sculptor and 1913 winner of the Rome Prize, was paid $1,100.00 to sculpt the three figures– King Solomon, King Hiram and Hiram Abiff– over the Ritual Tower entrance.
All the light fixtures were custom-made by the Sterling Bronze Company of New York. The lighting fixtures in the lodges, hallways, and foyers were designed for the tasks at hand.
Parducci's lobby design was reportedly adapted from an old castle in Palermo, Sicily. Parducci did model the 5’ bronze floor plaque depicting Strength, Truth and Beauty. He sculpted the two plaques in the stone walls of the interior stairs of the Scottish Rite entrance. These two are repeated in the lobby as plaster plaques.
List of buildings containing Parducci's art
- St. Thomas the Apostle's (1923)
- The Players (1925)
- Buhl Building (1925)
- Grand Rapids Trust Building (1926)
- Penobscot Building (1928)
- Detroit Zoo Rackham Memorial Fountain
- Webster Hall, Wayne State University (Demolished in 1991)
- David Stott Building (1929)
- Detroit Masonic Temple (1926)
- Wilson Theater, now Music Hall (1926)
- Edsel and Eleanor Ford House (1927)
- Lee Plaza (1929)
- Fisher Building (1929)
- Meadow Brook Hall (1929)
- Guardian Building (1929)
- Louisiana State Capitol (1929)
- Shrine of the Little Flower (1930s-1940s)
- Detroit Federal Building (1934)
- St. Peter Cathedral (Marquette, Michigan) (1938)
- Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies Building, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (1938)
- Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament (1940s-1950s)
- Detroit Historical Museum (1951)
- "The Shrine of the Holy Innocents" at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Chicago. (Memorial for the victims of the 1958 Our Lady of the Angels school fire). (c.1959)
- Ann Arbor News Building, 1936
- Trinity Lutheran Church
- Charles T. Fisher Residence
- Alfred J. Fisher Residence
- William A. Fisher Residence
- Frank Couzens Residence
- Stewart-Warner Speedometer Corporation Building
- Kresge Building
- Springwells Water Treatment Plant
- Hudson Motor Car Factory (Demolished)
- St. Aloysius Church
- St. John’s Seminary, now The Inn At St. Johns
- University of Detroit Mercy
- Standard Club of Chicago
- Second National Bank of Saginaw
- Kalamazoo Gazette Building, Kalamazoo, Michigan
- Kalamazoo County Building, Kalamazoo
- Barrie, Dennis (March 17, 1975).Corrado Parducci interview. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved on July 24, 2009.
- Foot, Andrew (June 29, 2006).International Metropolis. Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Diehl & Diehl Archives, photo inside Corrado Parducci's studio. Retrieved on July 24, 2009.
- Kvaran, Einar Einarsson, Shadowing Parducci, unpublished manuscript
- Godzak, Roman (2004). Catholic Churches in Detroit (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-3235-5.
- Savage, Rebecca Binno and Greg Kowalski (2004). Art Deco in Detroit (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-3228-2.
- Sobocinski, Melanie Grunow (2005). Detroit and Rome: building on the past. Regents of the University of Michigan. ISBN 0-933691-09-2.
- Tottis, James W. (2008). The Guardian Building: Cathedral of Finance. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8143-3385-3.
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