Antonio Mecca

Antonio Mecca

Antonio “Tony” Mecca’s journey from modest beginnings led him to become one of Camden’s most prominent figures during the first half of the 20th century. Born in Italy on November 26, 1873, he set foot in America in 1888. After a year spent picking berries in nearby Hammonton, he arrived in Camden in 1890, embarking on his entrepreneurial path. Antonio Mecca’s business career commenced with the sale of fruits from a humble pushcart. By 1902, he had progressed to the ownership of a liquor store. In 1906, he ventured into the funeral business, establishing a funeral parlor at the intersection of South 4th Street and Division Streets. Antonio Mecca played a significant role in the Camden Italian American Building Association and also engaged in real estate and fire insurance activities. He facilitated the purchase of steamship tickets to and from Europe, served as a notary public, and operated a substation of the Camden Post Office. His building, constructed in 1908, became widely known as “The White House” due to its distinctive appearance and its central role in the Italian-American community.

Located at 819 South 4th Street, The White House is a two-story structure designed in the Mediterranean Villa style. It sits in close proximity to two Roman Catholic churches, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church at 832 South 4th Street and the church of St. Peter and St. Paul at the intersection of Spruce and St. John Streets, just east of Broadway.

From The White House, Antonio Mecca assumed the role of a guide for countless immigrants who spoke no English. The post office substation that he managed assisted local residents in sending money to their families in Italy. In addition to serving as a notary public, he provided interpretation services for fellow Italians in Camden’s courts, aided neighbors in obtaining citizenship papers, and waived funeral fees for families facing financial hardship. Affectionately known as “Tony Mec” in the neighborhood, he introduced a pre-paid funeral plan for working-class families, charging just fifty cents a week. Antonio Mecca also operated a limousine rental service.

Antonio Mecca passed away in 1952. The funeral home at 819 South 4th Street continued to serve the community under the leadership of Richard Troncone and his family until the late 1960s.

Today, The White House at 819 South 4th Street still stands as a testament to its historical significance. Over time, the building had fallen into disrepair, becoming entirely unusable by the early 1990s. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Sal Scuderi and neighbors such as David Prado, Jose Reyes, and Robert Rivera, the building underwent a remarkable restoration. In May of 2001, it was once again put to use, drawing the enthusiasm of a crowd that included hundreds of current and former residents who gathered for its re-dedication.


Related Photos


Related Articles

  • Fiore Troncone

    Fiore Troncone, born around 1874 in Italy to Antonio and Rafaella Troncone, embarked on the journey to America with his family in 1885. After a period in Pennsylvania, where sons Anthony and William were born, the Troncone family made their way to Camden, NJ, shortly after 1900. By 1910, Fiore Troncone and his wife, Carmela,…

    Read More…

  • Antonio Mecca

    Antonio Mecca

    Antonio “Tony” Mecca’s journey from modest beginnings led him to become one of Camden’s most prominent figures during the first half of the 20th century. Born in Italy on November 26, 1873, he set foot in America in 1888. After a year spent picking berries in nearby Hammonton, he arrived in Camden in 1890, embarking…

    Read More…

  • Camden Chiselers Club

    Camden Chiselers Club

    The Camden Chiselers Club was organized in 1930 by Camden County Chief of Detectives Larry Doran, attorney Rocco Palese, and several other members of Camden’s political and business community. On January 6, 1938 the club gathered at 1462 Wildwood Avenue, the home of Assemblyman-elect and Mrs. Margaret Palese, to elect officers and celebrate Mrs. Palese’s…

    Read More…

  • Henry Magin Laid to Rest by War Veteran Buddies

    Henry Magin Laid to Rest by War Veteran Buddies

    Camden Courier-Post – August 26, 1941 Trucks of Flowers in Funeral Cortege Funeral services for City Commissioner Henry Magin were held today with his colleagues in official and veterans circles participating. Services were conducted in city commission chambers on the second floor of city hall, in charge of Rev. Dr. W.W. Ridgeway, rector of St.…

    Read More…

  • JOE MONTANA WED TO MISS PALLADINO

    JOE MONTANA WED TO MISS PALLADINO

    Camden Courier Post – February 9, 1933 Camden Wrestler and Bridge Are Given Dinner Attended by Notables Miss Emma Palladino, one of the fairest daughters of Camden’s “Little Italy” yesterday became the bride of Joseph Montana, heavyweight wrestler, at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Fourth and Division streets. Idol of Italian youth in this…

    Read More…

  • Political Paragraphs

    Camden Courier-Post – October 31, 1931 Gloucester Republicans concluded their final Baird rally of the campaign last night at their headquarters, 101 North King Street. Polls throughout the slate will open for the general election Tuesday at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. All voters in the polling place at 8 p.m. or in…

    Read More…


Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.