Much has been written about the iconic Montvale Plaza, and its impending sale. I would like to refresh, or introduce, to all interested, the origins of the Montvale Plaza and the glorious reputation it earned as being one of the first function halls of its kind to offer an elegant and fairy tale wedding.
My dad, a son of an Italian immigrant, opened his first business at age 19, Ciro’s Studio, in Dorchester. He was hired to take photos at many wedding receptions and balked at the run of the mill events that he saw and thought he could do better. He was inspired to create an elegant, affordable, and luxurious reception hall that catered to Brides on their wedding day. This dream of this young entrepreneur became the iconic Montvale Plaza.
In its day, (1968-1990) Montvale Plaza was the home to every wedding and prom in the surrounding area. Every bride was treated like royalty and was given luxurious accommodations for their guests on their special day. With his partners, Mike Colangelo and Pat Paste, they created an affordable all-inclusive package for weddings and proms and other events. In the very early years, the Principals ran Montvale Plaza themselves and gained a reputation amongst brides and event planners as the new up and coming Function Hall Star.
Weddings, galas and putting on a party were an important part of life and my mom made sure her daughters were fit for the role. Evening gowns, learning to dance, and developing a social grace was appreciated at an early age in our home and we all enjoyed getting dressed up to attend parties at the Montvale Plaza. Whether it be New Year’s Eve, Christmas parties, or someone’s wedding, Montvale was home to all who loved it, family, friends and the employees.
The employees who worked at Montvale Plaza are a big part of the history …….
The front of Montvale Plaza was managed by Tommy Carrol and then, Joe LaPorta. Each brought their love and talent for party planning and all the brides loved them as they interpreted the vision that my father set forth. The office staff worked hard to please every family that entrusted Montvale with their precious moments of life.
The kitchen was quite an exciting place to be as Bob Jaffe and his crew started off in the early days, Frank Skehill in the latter days and managed by Donald D’Andraia after that. The “Classic Chicken”, the Roast Beef, the Italian Wedding Soup were dishes I can still taste now as I remember how proudly they were cooked and presented. It was fun to go into the kitchen and see how cooking dinner for 300 people was done and see the mechanics of a great team of kitchen professionals do their magic.
The waitresses that worked at Montvale Plaza were like family to us and they stayed loyal to my father until Montvale was sold. They loved working there as they not only were top notch waitresses, but they followed my father’s visions as they presented those incredible sweet tables that came out at the end of every event. And the piece de resistance was the strawberry flambe dessert as those waitresses paraded proudly with their lit flambes in a darkened room—it was pure unexpected entertainment in a well-planned production.
And not to forget the bands that played in the early days of Montvale Plaza—the Vinny Marsinelli band, Don Alessi and his band rings out in my mind. There was a similar sound of Montvale bands, part big band, part jazz, part swing…….and this great sound was at every wedding of its day.
Then there were the valet boys. Another small family of loyal workers who would greet each guest and take their cars to park for the evening. Some came and went, but there were so many that stayed and were influenced by the Business and my Dad—the notorious Frank DePasquale who now owns several restaurants in the North End started as a valet at Montvale.
My two other sisters and I worked there when we were young girls. I would make the hundreds of cake boxes that were given out as wedding souvenirs and my sisters worked the coat check where we could spin the coats around and around. As we got older, it housed CLUB 54, an under 18 “dance club” where my nieces and nephews would bring their friends and have a ball.
We brought Mario and Mary’s comedy wedding to Montvale Plaza in its later years. It was a new chance to make people laugh and get out and have a good time. The rehearsals and the shows the family produced were what brought the Ciroli family out of a tragic period of time when we lost my sister in a car accident in 1990. It was healing to know that, just like in our grief, we could help others learn to laugh again in their own life tragedies. We came out of the ashes, as only our family could, through the gift my father taught us all---to entertain and put on a great production.
The Edwards Twins were introduced to New England at Montvale Plaza in the early 80’s and were managed by my father. They have since found a love for Stoneham, and appear yearly, but they ALWAYs pay homage to my father at every show in this area, and their love for my dad is heartfelt and they will never forget the lessons my father taught them. Anthony Edwards was so kind to sing “The Prayer” at my Dad’s funeral not long ago.
We watched Montvale Plaza being built. The grand chandelier, which became my father’s trademark, was lifted and put in the front hallway and a business was born. A business that gave young and old such lasting memories. Anyone over the age of 50 remembers the Montvale Plaza. Memories of a lifetime were captured in those walls. Memories of my life, and my family, and the memories of an incredibly gifted man, my dad, who gave so much, to so many, for so long, is now going to be dismantled and made into storage units, and eventually forgotten.
My dad went on to create the Chateau De Ville in Saugus, Framingham, Randolph, Enfield Connecticut and Warwick RI. He brought in the likes of Jerry Lewis, Johnny Carson Liza Minelli, to his Framingham location. He had a” larger than life” life. His charitable contributions were a long list of public and private donations that he was too humble to speak of. He just took care of people and was generous to a fault.
But Montvale Plaza was his baby, his first dream, his first success.
So, to see the news articles of Montvale’s demise without a mention of the visionary, the creator, the builder, the brilliant man who had the dream and made it a reality, who gave so many memories to so many new Englanders, is indeed disappointing. Apparently, the writers are young enough that they are unaware of the history of Stoneham’s leaders and innovators.
If your young writers could only peek back in time, when hundreds of cars lined the streets in front of Montvale Plaza, waiting to get in the building that promised them laughs, love and memories, they would be surprised that it hustled and bustled most nights and gave Stoneham a Hollywood appeal that it never has had since. The parking lots were full and the people were plenty. And from 1968-1990, it cranked like no business in Stoneham has ever seen......unfortunately, the tragic car accident that claimed the life of my sister in 1990 was traumatic for my dad, and Montvale might have been a casualty that took its eventual toll.
I know that along with my family, there are so many people that remember the good days, who enjoyed what Montvale was and rode the wave for so long. I want to hug you all who remember those days and remember the man that made it all possible.
My Dad, Mario Ciroli, passed away in 2016, and It sure would be nice if his memory was honored and preserved. His contribution to the town of Stoneham, its townspeople, the police and fire departments are endless.