For its 100th birthday, the National Park Service gave a long-awaited gift to many Italian-Americans and all unsung artists: Italian immigrant Luigi Del Bianco was finally recognized as the chief carver of Mount Rushmore.
The park service acknowledged on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Facebook page on May 4 that Gutzon Borglum, the designer and chief engineer of the project, had appointed Del Bianco as the monument’s chief carver in 1935.
Author Doug Gladstone wrote “Carving a Niche for Himself ” in 2014 about Del Bianco, a native of Meduno, Italy, who studied stone carving in Vienna and Venice.
Del Bianco’s grandson Lou Del Bianco had been trying for years, along with his late uncle, Caesar, to get this recognition for his grandfather. When Cameron Sholly assumed the position of National Park Service director for the Midwest region, he reassessed the request, according to The New York Times .
After corresponding with Lou Del Bianco and reviewing research by park service historians, Sholly was convinced of Luigi Del Bianco’s position as chief carver.
“He is worth any three men I could find in America, for this particular type of work,” Borglum wrote of Del Bianco in documents that Lou and Caesar Del Bianco discovered at the Library of Congress. “He is the only intelligent, efficient stone carver on the work who understands the language of the sculptor.”
Del Bianco immigrated to Vermont in 1908 but returned to Italy to fight for his native country in World War I. He then returned to Vermont in 1920.
In 1933, he was recruited to work on Mount Rushmore, where he made $72 a week, the Times reported.