Skip to main content

Centro Español de Tampa collection

Identifier: MS-1989-03
  • No requestable containers

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of financial records, account journals and ledgers, cash books, minute books, membership records, correspondence, and photographs.  Also includes lapel pins, flags, and other ephemera.


  • Created: 1891-2004
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1891-1939
  • Other: Date acquired: 00/00/1990


Conditions Governing Use

None. The contents of this collection may be subject to copyright.  Visit the United States Copyright Office's website at for more information.

Biographical or Historical Information

Centro Español, established in April 1891 as Tampa’s first mutual aid society, offered social and recreational activities, education and low-cost health care to Spanish immigrants drawn to the area by the cigar industry. Funded by 10 dollar stock pledges provided by the first 186 charter members, the mutual aid society built their first club building at 1526 7th Avenue. Cigar manufacturer Ignacio Haya, who also served as the club’s first president, donated the land on which the club was constructed. In 1905, with growing interest in cooperative medicine, the organization erected its sanatorio at the corner of Jackson and Ola streets. The sanatorio was a full-service medical hospital that provided members with low cost healthcare. For a small weekly fee, members received medical care, unemployment insurance, and assess to the club’s libraries, ball rooms, cantinas, billiard rooms, and theatres.

The club’s constitution required all applicants to be “Spaniards by birth and by patriotic inclination” or “loyal to Spain and to its prestige in America.” The society quickly outgrew its first building and in 1912 built a new club at the corner of 7th avenue and Broadway Avenue (in the current Centro Ybor development). With membership in the thousands, the society also decided to build a West Tampa extension of the club at 2306 N. Howard Avenue, which included the Royal Theatre, in 1912. Both buildings are registered on the United States National Register of Historic Places, and still stand to this day. As the social safety net of the federal government expanded from the 1930s to the 1950s, and as second and third generation Spaniards integrated into American culture, society membership dwindled. The Centro Español de Tampa functioned as the focal point for the community of Spaniards in the area, providing an avenue in which to preserve their cultural heritage, which can still be seen in Ybor City to this day.

Note written by Joe Tamargo, 2011


90.00 Linear Feet

145 boxes

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged into series according to content, with individual series for membership records, meeting minutes, financial documents, correspondence, and ephemera.

Source of Acquisition

Trust for Public Land and Angel Ramon

Method of Acquisition

The majority of the records were donated to the library in March 1990 by the Trust for Public Land.  Materials pertaining to the hospital were donated in 1999 by Angel Rañon.

Related Materials

Centro Austuriano Collection,  USF Libraries - Tampa Special Collections, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL. Ciculo Cubano Collection, USF Libraries - Tampa Special Collections, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL.

Related Publications

Soto, Reinaldo Rene.  The Centro Español Clubs of Tampa and the Latin People of Ybor City.  (S.l.):  the author, 1980.

Centro Español de Tampa collection
Joe Tamargo, 2011; Kevin Arms, 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the USF Libraries - Special Collections Repository

4202 East Fowler Ave.
Tampa FL 33620-5400 US