The Cuban Club (El Circulo Cubano)

2010 Avenida Republica de Cuba, Ybor City, FL 33605

OWNER: The Cuban Club Foundation

ARCHITECT: M. Leo Elliot and B.C. Bonfoey

BUILT: 1918

COST: $60,000 (1918)


The origin of El Círculo Cubano can be traced to the postwar milieu, specifically a recreational society El Club Nacional Cubano, founded October 10, 1899.  The beautiful Neo-Classical building in front of you is the Cuban Clubhouse.  El Circulo Cubano, as the club is known, began as a recreational group in 1899.  Unlike those who had immigrated to Ybor City from Spain or Italy, those who came here from Cuba were not so far from their homelands.  Where those who wanted to travel back to Spain or Italy had more than 4,000 miles to travel, those who wanted to return to Cuba had only about 400 miles.  The ease of returning to Cuba made those who had moved to Ybor City slow to put down permanent roots.  The original clubhouse that stood on this site burned down in 1916, and the Italians and Spaniards were quick to offer their own clubhouses to the Cubans so they would still have a place to meet.  This outpouring of support went a long way towards cementing the Cuban place in the Ybor City community, and once the clubhouse you see before you was finished in 1918, Cubans began to purchase houses and make Ybor City their home, as opposed to renting in boarding houses in order to keep returning to Cuba a possibility as was typical for Cubans prior to that point.  Over the years, this building housed a cantina, a huge ballroom, a popular theater, a gymnasium, a boxing hall, a basketball court, and an indoor track.  El Circulo Cubano hosted many events and allowed the social and political ideals of the Cubans to spread through the community.  Desire for Cuban independence from Spain was high, and by the time Cuba fought the war for its independence in the 1950s, exiles from the war had a strong Cuban community in Ybor City to which to flee.  This new wave of immigrants brought numerous Cuban businessmen and professionals to Ybor City, many of whom rocketed to the top of Tampa society.  Through it all, El Circulo Cubano remained the hub of the Cuban community.

As happened with many groups in Ybor City, over time, El Circulo Cubano waned in popularity.  Despite being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, in 1992, the building faced foreclosure and was in desperate need of renovations to bring the building up to code were it to remain in operation.  Through the efforts of the Cuban Club Foundation, grant money and donations helped save the building, and El Circulo Cubano remains a beacon for the Cuban community here in Tampa.  

The Cuban Club was listed on the AIA Florida Top 100 Buildings List: 100 Years, 100 Places.

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