Kin of noted city pioneer urge lane's name be kept

2012-08-21T00:00:00Z 2012-08-28T11:30:16Z Kin of noted city pioneer urge lane's name be keptDavid Leighton Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

In 1903, the city of Tucson paid homage to a prominent local businessman, A.V. Grossetta.

The honor came in the form of a street called Grossetta Avenue, between East Alameda Street and East Toole Avenue.

Now, after more than 100 years, county officials are deciding whether to maintain the street name or eliminate it. The county is building over most of the street, and only a small section will remain as an entrance to a new joint justice and municipal courts complex.

The Grossetta family is trying to save the street name and has contacted the city of Tucson Preservation Office, Pima County Facilities Management and the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission among others for help in preserving Anthony Vincent Grossetta's legacy.

"He played a very important role in the city of Tucson, and the city honored him over 100 years ago - it seems a shame to let that slip away," said his great-grandson, Bruce Grossetta. "While obviously the need for a judicial complex is apparent, some way to retain his contribution could still be done."

Grossetta would like to see the street sign that has been removed put back up, along with a plaque.

Anthony Grossetta was born in Ragusa, Austria (now Dubrovnik, Croatia), on April 26, 1856. His father, Vincent Grossetta, was in the shoe business.

Anthony spent his childhood in Ragusa, where he attended school and learned to speak German, Italian and Slovene.

At 12 years old, he left home and spent the next six years as a sailing apprentice and sailor, on both English and American vessels. In 1874 he moved to the United States and for a period was hired by the New York Central Railroad.

He next went to Montreal where he worked for the Italian Consulate for two years. In 1877, he traveled west to San Francisco and then Los Angeles, spending a total of three years in California.

In January 1880, Grossetta moved to Tucson. During his first two years here, he worked in a grocery store and used what he learned to start the Tucson Grocery Co. with ex-Mayor Gustav Hoff.

The store was near the railway station and was a staple of Tucson life. In 1893, the shop was relocated to East Congress Street. In 1900, he diversified and opened Tucson Hardware Co. at 55 E. Congress St. He also invested wisely in real estate, including an irrigated ranch of more than 100 acres three miles north of downtown Tucson.

In 1889, along with Fred Ronstadt, he founded the Tucson Philharmonic Club (Club Filharmónico Tucsonense). Eight years later, he built the Tucson Opera House, which he later donated to the city of Tucson in appreciation for all the city had given him.

A.V. Grossetta was a member of the Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1906 and also served on the Tucson City Council. In 1901, he was appointed by Gov. Nathan Oakes Murphy to the Governing Board of the University of Arizona, and served a second term in this position. He also held membership in the Tucson Lodge of the Masonic Order and was the first president of the Tucson Light & Power Co.

Grossetta married Bessie Warren, a native of Wisconsin and a descendant of Gen. Dr. Joseph Warren of Revolutionary War fame. They had one son together, Warren A. Grossetta. Anthony had a half-brother named Anton, whom he sponsored to come to the U.S. and later on became a police officer in Tucson.

Grossetta died in 1924.

Editor's note

Each week the Star tells the stories behind Tucson street names. If you have streets to suggest or stories to share, contact writer David Leighton at streetsmarts@azstarnet.com

Sources: James H. McClintock, "Arizona Prehistoric - Aboriginal Pioneer Modern. The Nation's Youngest Commonwealth," SJ Clarke Publishing, 1916. Unknown author, "Portrait and Biographical Record of Arizona," Chapman Publishing Co., 1901 C.L. Sonnichsen, "Tucson: The Life and Times of an American City," University of Oklahoma Press, 1987 Interview with Bruce and Gail Grossetta

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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