The St. Mary’s Benevolent Society was founded in 1911 by thirty two men of Italian origin, most of whom worked at the nearby Hutton Brickyard and lived at Kingston Point. The members originally named their organization “The Benevolenza Associazone Santa Maria di Mutuo Soccorso”. Their purpose was to help each other in times of illness or distress. The Society also served as a social club for its members.
During the first eleven years, the Society met at the home of it’s first President, John Sottile, as well as the home of Sam Frangello. Both houses are situated across the street from the hall’s current location on North Street.
In 1922, the first meeting hall was erected by the members and the Society was incorporated by the State of New York. Prior to World War II, the hall was raised up to create a full basement, which became a social club for the members. The upper hall was used for large gatherings such as wedding receptions, showers, parties, spaghetti dinners and Church services. This hall suffered from periodic flooding and the upper hall was sometimes not large enough to host large gatherings.
In 1972, members broke ground on a new meeting hall. Work on the building was primarily done by the members over the next several years and the first party in the new hall was held in 1978. The current hall serves many of the same purposes today as the old hall did. Wedding receptions, showers, anniversary and birthday parties are frequently held at our current hall, which comfortably seats over 200 guests. We continue to hold Church services three times a year: Christmas Day, Easter Sunday and the second Sunday in September (Feast Day of St. Mary). The new hall also has the advantage of never flooding out. The old hall still stands and is used primarily for storage.
Originally, members had to be full-blooded Italian and Roman Catholic. The original by-laws were written in Italian and members had to speak in Italian at meetings. Today, members must have Italian parents or grandparents, and belong to the Roman Catholic Church. There are eighty members currently enrolled in the Society. The majority of members still live in the Kingston area. We still help members in times of illness or distress, and we also donate to local charities and organizations.
Since its inception, members have hosted an annual bazaar to honor the Feast Day of St. Mary. The actual feast day is September 8th , and members host their bazaar on the weekend after Labor Day.