History of Castronovo Bridal Shop

Salvatore Castronovo was born on October 16, 1889. He came to America through Ellis Island and settled in Rockford, Il at age 13.He married Maria Audenzia Maggio in 1909, and together they had six children, Joe, Francis, Lillian, Mary Frances, Sam and Rose. The family settled in south Rockford at 1427 Rock Street in 1927 and purchased the lot for $800.00. The first born children Joe and Francis died at a young age due to polio and influenza.

Rose was born in Aug. of 1911 and became a piano teacher as well as working at AAA Motor Club and working in the family business in later years. 

Sam was born a year later and became a fashion designer and also played the violin. He was often hired to do private recitals.

Lillian was born in 1921 and at age 34 engaged to be married, died of cancer.

Grandma Mary died from scarlet fever at age 41 in 1934. 

Mary Frances was born on June 10, 1916. She had a dream to own her own dress shop. After graduating H.S. the same year her mother died, she worked in a garment factory to save money to go to Traphagan School of Design in New York. Upon graduation she accepted a position at Butterick Pattern Company. 

In 1937 with her father's blessings she opened a dress shop and with $750 started Castronovo Dress Shop at 323 North Church Street along with Rose, Sam and Lillian. In 1947 they moved to the present location at 722 North Main Street and Sam moved to San Francisco to open a garment factory. Grandpa Salvatore died in 1953 and shorly after Sam came back to Rockford to help his sisters run the business.

While vacationing in Palermo Sicily, Mary Francis adopted a 15 month boy and named hin Nino. With the help of U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen, Frank St. Angel and many others from the Italian community an emergency session of congress passed a bill for a foreign adoption to a single parent. President Eisenhower signed the bill in 1959 into law and Nino became a U.S. Citizen on the way to Rockford.

The family lived above the dress shop on North Main Street and finally moved to Bradley Road in 1962. 

Rose died in 1966 and Sam in 1973. Castronovo Bridal Shop was then owned and operated by Mary Frances and after her death in 2007 is still a family run business by son Nino Castronovo. Mary Francis dream is still alive now after 78 years. 

The Ethnic Heritage Museum exhibits beautiful wedding dresses from Castronovo's and displays more of this great family history. The museum is open Sundays from 2-4 p.m. and other days for groups of four or more to call the museum for a private tour.