Places that Matter

Casa Amadeo

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Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Latin music store in the Bronx
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Place Matters Profile

Casa Amadeo is the oldest continuously run music store in the Bronx and most likely New York City. It is also one of the few remaining intact sites connected with New York City's postwar Latin music scene. Brother and sister Victoria and Rafael Hernández, who had originally owned another music store, Almacenes Hernández, in East Harlem from 1927 to 1939, started the store that is now Casa Amadeo.

While Rafael composed music, Victoria ran the family business, becoming one of only a handful of woman entrepreneurs in the Puerto Rican community in the 1920s. In 1941, she opened Casa Hernández in the Manhanset building, where they also had an apartment on the third floor. At this time specialty shops were rare, so in addition to selling music and instruments, Victoria’s store also featured an eclectic assortment of wares including clothing.

In 1969 Victoria sold Casa Hernández to the musician and composer Mike Amadeo, and the store became Casa Amadeo, antigua Casa Hernández. Under Amadeo's ownership the store continued to function as music stores always had in the Latino community. In the postwar years Latin music stores were gathering places for musicians, as well as places to go to seek openings in bands; bandleaders who needed instrumentalists for their orchestras and conjuntos, or record companies looking for session players would also stop by. Early on the major record companies such as Victor and Columbia also depended on the storeowners to gauge the community’s musical tastes. While the store does not serve all these functions today, it continues its important social role--musicians, neighbors, and local politicians often gather there to sing while Mike plays the guitar.

In 2001 Casa Amadeo was listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places for its significance to the Latin music scene in New York City and its role in the Puerto Rican experience of New York. To inquire about store business hours call 718-328-6896.