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) meets the third Wednesday of every month at 7:30 pm in Westchester Square at the historic Huntington Free Library and Reading Room at 9 Westchester Square 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 permanent licensed NYS high school history teacher (grades 7-12) with the Archdiocese of New York and is a board member of the Huntington Free Library.
Tom Vasti, vice-President and acting Treasurer is a retired officer with the New York City Police Department and board member of the Huntington Free Library.
Thomas X. Casey, Secretary is retired from the United States Department of the Treasury, current treasurer of the Huntington Free Library, 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.
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.
Hector Soto, Counsel is employed as a Professor of Law and Public Policy at Hostos Community College CUNY, member of College-wide Senate Executive Committee, member of the Civic Engagement and Re-entry Committees, Member of the New York and Federal Bars, on the Board of Citizens Union, Respect and Justice for Puerto Rico, Latino Sports Ventures, and of the Steering Committee of Community Learning Partnership.
Dorothy Krynicki, board member, is a retired high school history teacher, board member of Bronx Community Board #10 and board member of the Westchester Square-Zerega Improvement Organization.