El Centro Asturiano

1913 N. Nebraska Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605

OWNER: Centro Asturiano

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

BUILT: 1914

COST: $110,000


The clubs that arose in the early days of Ybor City were founded in order to provide the various ethnic immigrant communities with that which they would otherwise not have had.  This included a sense of community and a place for social gatherings, as well as basic amenities.  In the early 1900s, a debate arose within the Spanish club, El Centro Español, about the need for the club to provide medical services to the members.  The debate was so contentious with both sides so unwilling to compromise that 542 members of El Centro Español left the club to form their own society.  In 1902, those 542 men founded El Centro Asturiano, and their first order of business was to develop medical services facilities.  Just three years after its founding, El Centro Asturiano had already opened its first hospital, La Covadonga Hospital.  They also built a lavish clubhouse that was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1911.  The even more elaborate replacement clubhouse, finished in 1914, is the magnificent building you see before you today.  The clubhouse, which was at the time hailed as the most beautiful building in the South, cost a staggering $110,000 to build, which is the equivalent of almost $3 million in 2013!  The building boasted a gymnasium, a cantina, a bowling alley, a bank, a library, a ballroom, numerous reading rooms, and a huge 120-seat theater appointed with rich velvet and mahogany seats.

The Centro Asturiano’s events drew more people than the events held by any other club in Ybor City.  Their picnics, which took place every few months, drew as many as 6,000 people.  El Centro Asturiano’s theater was also very popular, and from 1936 to 1939 it even served as the headquarters for the New Deal’s Federal Theater Project, putting on Spanish-language plays and operas that drew in some 50,000 people a year for three years.  Today, El Centro Asturiano still has an active membership and serves as an anchor for the Spanish community in Tampa.  The club still hosts events in its ballroom and theater and is active in preserving Spanish culture for future generations.


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