- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 22, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) — Giorgio Cavaglieri, an Italian-Jewish architect who designed airfields for anti-Semitic dictator Benito Mussolini before fleeing to America and spurring the urban-preservation movement, died May 15 at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan from internal bleeding. He was 95.

His name is linked to some of New York’s most-famous buildings. He transformed the old Astor Library in the East Village into Joseph Papp’s Public Theater and created the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

The Jefferson Market Library in Greenwich Village — a one-time Victorian courthouse with a turret — is considered by many to be the first successful preservation of a historic building in New York City.

Mr. Cavaglieri was born in Venice. He had graduated from Milan’s Polytechnic University and was working for the insurance giant Assicurazioni Generali when Adolf Hitler came to power, with Mussolini as his ally. Generali was founded by Venetian Jews in the 1830s and became a leading insurer in what was then the Austro-Hungarian empire.

In 1939, after the family’s assets were seized, Mr. Cavaglieri boarded a ship for the United States with his mother and sister. They moved into a $15-a-month apartment on Madison Avenue before Mr. Cavaglieri found work in Baltimore, where he met his wife, Norma Sanford. During World War II, the architect served in the U.S. Army as it helped liberate Europe from the Nazis and Fascists.

After the war, Mr. Cavaglieri and his wife lived in New York — first on the Upper East Side, then on the Upper West Side until her death in 1971.

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