Centro Asturiano de Tampa collection
Scope and Contents
The Centro Asturiano de Tampa Collection consists of club and hospital records, meeting minutes, photographs, ephemera, zarzuelas, playbills, financial records, memorias, sheet music, and cemetery records. Included in the ephemera, are flags, trophies, printing plates, and various artifacts related to the club.
- Created: 1902-2007
- Other: Majority of material found in 1902-1987
- Other: Date acquired: 00/00/1989
- Centro Asturiano de Tampa (Organization)
Conditions Governing Use
None. The contents of this collection may be subject to copyright. Visit the United States Copyright Office's website at http://www.copyright.gov/for more information.
Biographical or Historical Information
When Spanish immigrants came to Tampa in the 1890s, they brought with them the idea of the mutual aid society, a voluntary association or club that pooled resources to provide members with a variety of social, cultural, and economic benefits. The first such club established in Tampa was the Centro Español, founded in 1891. The Centro Asturiano began in 1902 when a group of members seceded from the Centro Español to create a club that included healthcare. Named for the northwest Spanish region of Asturias from which many of the founding members had come, the new society was chartered as a branch of the Centro Asturiano de Habana, and was known for decades as the “Tampa Delegation” of the Cuban organization.
On January 22, 1909, the club dedicated a handsome red brick building, which cost $75,000. When fire destroyed the building in 1912, club members voted to build an even larger and more impressive facility. This columned, neoclassical building, which the Tampa Morning Tribune called “the most beautiful building in the South,” opened in 1914 at a cost of $110,000. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and retains its stature as one of the most outstanding structures in Tampa’s Ybor City historic district. The club’s cantina provided a pleasant atmosphere for members to spend their leisure time, a place to talk, play dominos, and smoke a cigar. The palatial ballroom was the scene of glittering social affairs, balls, tea dances, and other activities. A space was set aside for a library and gymnasium as well to promote the club’s mission of education, good health and the general well-being of its members. The Centro’s building served as a center of social and cultural life for its community and is still owned by the club to this day.
A central part of club life was the building’s elaborate theatre. In its heyday, the Centro theatre was the venue for plays, operas, musicals, and other performances featuring both local talent and well-known Cuban, Spanish, and Italian entertainers who made Ybor City part of their tours. During the depression years of the 1930s, the Spanish language unit of the WPA Federal Theatre presented performances in the Centro’s theatre, which was also used for cigar labor union meetings and other events.
The largest of all the Tampa fraternal clubs, the Centro expanded and flourished in the early decades of the twentieth century, due in large part to its acceptance of members from various ethnicities and its medical facilities. Following World War II however, membership gradually declined as economic and demographic changes eroded the cigar-making immigrant community. Many of the services offered by the club either became functions of government agencies or were too expensive to maintain, lessening the advantages of membership. With the assimilation of its traditional membership base into the general population, the club was no longer the center of the cohesive ethnic community it once served. Despite adversity, the Centro Asturiano has endured, serving as an icon of heritage to descendants of the Spanish immigrants who played such a significant role in the development of modern Tampa.
Note written by Paul Camp, 2006; Joe Tamargo, 2011.
215.00 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
The Centro Asturiano de Tampa Collection is arranged into series according to subject. These include organizational, membership, financial and hospital “sanatorio” records that are arranged chronologically within each series. There is also a separate series for ephemera, photographs, and sheet music. Boxes 159-243 contain financial records.
Source of Acquisition
Centro Asturiano de Tampa
Method of Acquisition
- Centro Asturiano de Tampa
- Cigar industry -- Florida -- Tampa Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Clubs -- Florida -- Tampa Subject Source: Usfspeccol
- Cuba -- Relations -- Florida -- Tampa Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Playbills – Florida – Tampa. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Tampa (Fla.) -- History Subject Source: Local sources
- Tampa (Fla.) -- Social life and customs Subject Source: Usfspeccol
- Ybor City (Tampa, Fla.) -- History Subject Source: Usfspeccol
- Centro Asturiano de Tampa collection
- Joe Tamargo, 2011
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description