Justin Normand and Gary Cathey celebrated two special anniversaries in October at their home on Jefferson Street. J.H. Williams Sr. purchased the Soldini House in 1916, which was built in 1847 by Soldini and Triscini in the Italian Renaissance Revival style.
“Our family is fortunate to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of our family owning the Soldini House,” said Justin.
H. Williams Sr. deeded the home to his daughter Henri D. Alcock upon her engagement to Walter Alcock. The Alcocks lived in the home till their death when it passed to their daughter Ruth Estelle Normand. It then passed to her grandson Justin Normand and Gary Cathey.
The other special anniversary was the owners’ 25-year anniversary of their commitment to one another.
Justin and Gary met in 1991 and married in a personal and spiritual ceremony in Atlanta.
“It meant a great deal to us,” said Justin. “It was not something that we even discussed with family and friends because of the climate surrounding gay issues in this conservative area.”
In 2011 Justin and Gary were looking at ways to celebrate their 20th Anniversary when marriage equality was approved by the New York legislature. Since Gary had lived in NYC for 5 years in the early 80s, the couple decided to be in NYC the first day gay marriages were performed and become legally married.
“At the time, our marriage was only recognized by the state of New York and the few other states that also had passed marriage equality at the time,” said Gary.
Now, in 2016, they’re celebrating the 5-year anniversary of their New York wedding, as well as their 25-year anniversary of commitment to each other.
“We hope our honesty about our relationship, the way we honor our commitment, and the way we work for the betterment of our community will help erase the bigotry and hate still directed at the LGBTQ community so that same-sex couples marrying now will feel no need to ‘quietly’ celebrate their 25th anniversary in the years to come,” the couple said.
The Soldini House has been “home” to Justin in every possible way. A list of colorful kin and friends have owned or resided there, including: James Henry Williams Sr., Walter E. and Henri D Williams Alcock, Ruth Estelle Alcock Normand, Lucia Alcock Creighton, Walter E. Alcock Jr., Edna Gloria Alcock, Mr. and Mrs. McKean, Rev. and Mrs. Schutz and family, Miss Helen Long, Harry and Mary Creighton, Gloria Jean Normand, Mary Ann Normand, Jason Johnson, Caine and Shana Hernandez, Tim Hernandez, Heidi Hernandez Greene, Ray Hernandez, Natalie and Danny Kellogg, and more.
“My great-grandparents, Walter and Henri D Alcock, loved this old house very much, and kept it in top shape, for which we are grateful,” said Justin. “They did so with over 100 years of combined service from their two maids, Eva Richards and Elvira Comite, for whom the family holds great gratitude and affection. Birthdays, Thanksgivings, Christmases, Fourths of July, Anniversaries — all have been huge family events here for a century now.”
Around 135 of their friends and family joined them under a tent behind their home Oct. 15 for a meal and fellowship.
“It was wonderful to be able to join our 25-year anniversary celebration with the 100th year milestone of the family in Soldini House,” they said.