Long lost statue of Italian-American seamstress found after decades

Long lost statue of Italian-American seamstress found after decades

MANHATTAN, N.Y. (PIX11) — It was a special moment for 95-year-old Maria Pulsone as a 51-inch sculpture of her likeness was unveiled at the Italian American Museum on the Lower East Side.

When Maria was much younger working as a seamstress in the garment center she was honored by her boss who commissioned the plaster sculpture of her.  For years it stood in the lobby of the Broadway building where she worked. Suddenly it was gone.

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Maria believed the statue was dumped. Forty years later, her granddaughter and her husband did some detective work, and with amazement, found the lost statue of her grandmother last year.

Jennifer Pulsone Heppner recalled, “We did a quick Google search and found it in a antique shop in Scranton, Pennsylvania,” Jennifer Pulsone Heppner recalled. “They gave us a Black Friday special for $600.”

The family decided the statue of the hardworking Italian immigrant should have a permanent new home at the Italian American museum under construction on Mulberry Street. Dr. Joseph Scelsa, the museum founder, expressed his delight, calling the statue a “wonderful tribute.”

“We have many acquisitions in the museum but we don’t have a statue of an actual worker,” said Dr. Scelsa.

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Surrounded by adoring family, including two great-grandchildren, Maria said she could never have imagined her statue would someday be in a museum. “That’s a piece of me,” she said. “it’s a big honor for all Italians, all of Italy. For me, I feel like a princess. I’m lucky. This is a very big moment.”

Maria quipped as she looked at her likeness and was asked if she thought it bore a resemblance. “Maybe,” she said. “I’m getting older, the statue is young.”

Her great-grandson Ethan Heppner says he is happy that people can go somewhere to see her.

The statue rekindles the memories of life in the garment center decades ago and it puts a face on the labors of immigrants. Now, it will immortalize Maria Pulsone in the new Italian American museum that will open later this summer.

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