The East Bronx History Forum’s first President and founder was author and historian Bill Twomey. He had written numerous books about Bronx history in addition to his popular “Do You Remember” articles which appeared weekly in the Bronx Times Reporter until 2012. Some of our founding members include, Thomas Casey, Tom Vasti, Nicholas DiBrino, Jorge Santiago, Carl Andersen, Mike Cronin, Mike Bozack, Don Gilligan, Bill Armstrong and the Huntington Free Library and Reading Room librarian, Cathy McChesney. The East Bronx History Forum (EBHF) now meets on the third Tuesday of every month at 7:30 pm in Bartus Hall at the First Lutheran Church of Throggs Neck located at 3075 Baisley Avenue to specifically discuss the history of the East Bronx and the Bronx in general. There are no formal meetings in July and August. During the recent Covid crisis, meetings had been held via ZOOM at 8 pm. Login information to the Zoom meetings are available on the front of our web page.
Past topics that have been presented and discussed included: Trolley Cars and The Third Ave EL, The Morris Park Race Track, The Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping, City Island, Loreto Park, Bronx Hall of Fame, Catholic Protectory, Art of the Piccirelli’s, C. Paul Jennewein and other Bronx artists, Beers & Breweries, Bronx Woman in History, Lost Cemeteries, Pelham Bay Park during WWI, Morgan Powell’s Bronx River Sankofa, Freedomland and many others. Also included have been book readings and discussions from local authors, along with independent film productions and films made in the Bronx. The EBHF has hosted numerous Bronx Antique Roadshows, a popular favorite over the years presented during the month of June.
The EBHF has led numerous walking tours during July and August some which have included neighborhoods and places such as Eastchester, Seton Falls Park, Morris Park, Van Nest, Hunter’s Island, Williamsbridge, Wakefield and Westchester Square. The EBHF supports annual community, park and library events, advocates for street co-naming’s of historic individuals along with sponsoring Memorial and Veteran’s Day services since 2009.
From the first meeting, on June 15, 2005 through our 150th meeting December 16, 2020, the EBHF had presented a variety of topics, historic images, speakers, invited guests, and authors about Bronx history along with member discussions. One of our early issues and the main impetus for forging ahead with the History Forum was the unfortunate destruction of the Arnow Mansion in 2005, located at Pierce Avenue and Williamsbridge Road which was razed only to remain undeveloped until 2021.
By 2012, Bill Twomey retired as President of the History Forum to be succeeded by educator and co-founder Richard Vitacco. During the past nine years the EBHF has grown in popularity, content and legitimacy. In 2013, the EBHF applied for legal status as a 501 c (3) non-profit, which it gained the following year along with its designation as a historical society through the New York State Department of Education. Our motto is Educate, Advocate and Preserve.
All interested individuals are encouraged to join and participate in the EBHF, as we always welcome new topics. At the moment, all meetings are free to attend and open to the public.
Richard Vitacco, President is employed as a permanently licensed NYS high school history teacher (grades 7-12) with the Archdiocese of New York. Richard has conducted walking tours for the EBHF of many neighborhoods and places such as Morris Park, Van Nest, Downing’s Brook, Eastchester/Edenwald, Westchester Square and for the neighborhood just north of Pelham Parkway, historically known as Astor Village. In addition to walking tours, he serves as the editor of the History Forum's Vimeo channel. Richard has also achieved the Historic District Council’s Six To Celebrate status for Van Nest. The EBHF has successfully advocated for landmark status for three Bronx structures such as Engine 88 in Belmont, the Opera House Hotel in Mott Haven and the Bronx Fire Alarm and Telegraph Center on East 180th Street in 2023. He also serves as a board member of the Huntington Free Library and Reading Room in Westchester Square.
Tom Vasti, vice-President is a retired officer with the New York City Police Department and board member of the Huntington Free Library and Reading Room. Tom has a vast knowledge base of Morris Park and Westchester Square neighborhoods. In addition, he has conducted walking tour of Downing's Brook and Bronx Tourist cabins.
Sharon Pandolfo-Perez, Treasurer works as a Creative Director on a diverse range of general market and targeted campaigns, Sharon has spearheaded integrated brand efforts for: Pfizer, Merck, Astra Zeneca, Novo Nordisk, United Healthcare, M&M/MARS, Colgate-Palmolive, Unilever, The Home Depot and more. With her fashion editorial creative direction some of the most notable publications she has been seen in are Vogue Italia & Vogue Arabia. An ever-evolving creative, on the side of her day job in health marketing, Sharon’s passion projects include The Parkchester Project which began in late 2017 as a local popular Instagram photo-journal documenting the Art Deco Terra-cotta sculptures in Parkchester in the Bronx. Now, The Parkchester Project has evolved from simply research and documentation into an arts advocacy effort & cultural programming for the community. Sharon has recently won the prestigious “Six to Celebrate” award for her efforts and research by The Historic Districts Council. She also has been recognized by local politicians and awarded with citations from both The City Council of New York and The New York State Assembly in 2022.
Dorothy Krynicki, Secretary, is a retired high school history teacher, board member of Bronx Community Board #10 and board member of the Westchester Square-Zerega Improvement Organization.
Jorge Santiago, Archivist, is retired and is a trustee of the City Island Historical Society and Nautical Museum and board member of the Bronx Council for Environmental Equality.
Nilka Martell, Liaison for Community Out-Reach and Marketing is employed as an independent contractor for paralegal services and founder and director of Loving The Bronx, board chair of the Bronx River Alliance, president of the Friends of Pelham Bay Park, co-chair of the Bronx Coalition of Parks and Green Spaces and sits on the board of the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, board member of the Huntington Free Library and the Friends of 4 Parks Alliance.
Anthony Pisciotta, board member, is involved with local preservation particularly with historic cemetery restoration. He was involved with the repair and restoration of Bayside Cemetery in Queens, New York from 2009-2020. His story can be seen here at CBS Local.
Thomas X. Casey, board member, is retired from the United States Department of the Treasury, current treasurer of the Huntington Free Library and Reading Room, secretary for the Kingsbridge Historical Society, board of director for the Bartow Pell Mansion and Museum, Secretary for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation, National Board for The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and Trustee - Thomas X. Casey Foundation.