After the end of World War II, thousands of young men returned to Middletown to start their lives after putting them on hold for many years. Families were eager to raise their kids, buy homes and get on with life.
The city recognized that there was limited housing and that they were going to need to offer affordable places for families to call home. Two projects were completed in 1952 to create rental properties: one off of Long Lane and the other off Wadsworth Street.
The Long Lane development was given the street names Santangelo Circle and Kieft, Daddario and Cubeta roads.
Santangelo Circle was named for Leo B. Santangelo, the first Sicilian (and Italian, for that matter) mayor of Middletown. He was elected in 1934 and served one, two-year term.
Santangelo was born in Italy and came to Middletown when he was about a year old. His father, Mike Santangelo, and his mother Catherine, came in 1880 from Melilli with Leo and his older sister Nancy.
Mike Santangelo was identified as a shoemaker in town in 1900. In that same year, Nancy worked at the L.D. Brown & Sons Silk Co. on Cooley Avenue and 20-year-old Leo Santangelo was a barber.
By 1930, Leo and his wife Zilla lived on South Main Street in the large Federal-style house at the head of the South Green (or Union Park). The house, which had been once owned by Thomas Mather (who built what is now the Rushford Center) and by Benjamin Douglas, a prominent abolitionist and manufacturer in the mid-1800s, was valued at about $25,000, a huge sum for those days.
By this time, when he was an adult and near his term in office, Leo Santangelo had a productive and profitable career as a real estate and insurance agent that he'd started in 1915. His offices were located at 215 Main St.
Leo and Zilla Santangelo had two children, Earl and Louis.