Late 19th and 20th century Cuban immigration to the United States was impressive for the craft talents brought to the country. Along with their Spanish counterparts, skilled Cuban cigar makers made Tampa’s hand rolled cigars world-famous.
As early as 1899 Cuban immigrants formed recreational societies with varying degrees of success, and in 1902 Cuban workers founded “El Circulo Cubano” which means “Circle of Cubans.” It was a mutual aid society to “bind all Cuban residents of Ybor City/Tampa into a fraternal group, to offer assistance and help to the sick.” The club provided a gathering place for members and served as a unifying force in the Cuban community.
Page 8, La Bohemia Revista, Tampa, 9th of September 1916 (Courtesy of USF Special Collection Archives)
Ground Breaking Ceremony for the new building in 1917
Rafael Martinez Ybor hugging Dr. Alfredo Kohly
Group assembled in the Theatre (El Teatro) for a big event and program. 1940’s
Dr. Julio L. Gavilla with his family. Dr. Gavilla served as one of the clinic doctors at El Círculo Cubano. His office was on 7th Avenue next to the Ritz Theatre. Hortensia Lavin Morales served as the nurse in the clinic.
Balcony railing was replaced. Above is original and below picture is current railing. Sources have it that in the early 60’s the railing and the lamps were taken down due to deterioration and cause of further damage to the building.
Program Booklet of the CC 1955. Joyce Cermeño, CC Queen
In 1953, World Welterweight Champion Kid Gavilán came to Tampa for a fight with hometown boxer Aman Peck, at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory. Pictured (middle) is fight promoter Al Garcia, Sr. welcoming Gavilán in front of the historic Cuban Club building for the non-title fight, which took place on January 13, 1953. (article, courtesy of La Gaceta, photo courtesy of Sylvia Garcia Muga and La Gaceta)
The Patio behind the Círculo Cubano was constructed in 1938 under the Presidency of Francisco Garcia. The large white star in the middle of the patio floor stands for the White Star called” La Estrella Solitaria" (the Lone Star) and it represents independence and freedom. This is a close-up picture of the patio floor where the members placed metal strips into the concrete to form the letters and numbers, “Abril 1938 Pres. Francisco Garcia”.
El Patio behind the Círculo Cubano was constructed in 1938 under the Presidency of Francisco Garcia. The large white star in the middle of the patio floor stands for the White Star called” La Estrella Solitaria" (the Lone Star) and it represents independence and freedom.
The Report presented by the Executive Board
The Cuban Club of Ybor City (Tampa, Florida) / El Sama Presents the 8th Annual Halloween Ball Ticket No. 0496. From 9 p.m. til? Oct. 29, 1983 / music, costume contest, door prizes / $8.00 per person Photo courtesy of San Antonio Antiques http://sanantoniofloridaantiques.com/
Mike Baluja’s parents are Miguel and Palmira. (Right couple) Maura Cruz Lanz is the daughter of Teresa González Cruz and Carlos Manuel Cruz (left couple) Photo courtesy of Mike Bulaja
Francis “Frank” Paul Saso October 04, 1931 - April 2, 2015 The artist of the exquisite drawing of our Círculo Cubano building. Born in Euclid, Ohio, graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art. He was a commercial illustrator in Detroit, Michigan and then moved to Florida in 1980 opening his own art studio in Tampa.
Shared by Rolando Perez Pedrero May 11, 1952 Traditional Mother’s Day picnic in El Patio. At table Left-Right: Evangelina Pedrero, Amelia Pedrero Perez, Rolando Perez Gomez, Amelita Castillo Pedrero, standing: Eduardo Pedrero Valdes, Francisco “Pancho” Blanco, Dolores “Lola” Pedrero Blanco, Arsenia Pedrero Corces, Gustavo “Nene” Corces. (picture shared by La Gaceta)
Sunday radio show performed at El Círculo Cubano
1927 Cuban Club Boxing in El Patio
1927 Cuban Club Colored Band
Cuban Club dinner in the Ballroom / Salón de Baile
El Salón de Baile, Grand Ballroom all packed for an event
Board of Directors / Directivos del Círculo Cubano (no info on persons or year, yet)
Cuban National Navy at El Círculo Cubano in the 60’s
CC Baseball Team in 1949. Picture comes from Joe Benito, from a scrap book he created.
A heated domino game in La Cantina Salvador Toledo (man standing with hand in pocket)
El Círculo Cubano de Tampa front staircase, 1918
1928-29 El Círculo Cubano de Tampa Men’s Basketball Champions. Third from the left is Jose Monterese.
Dancing the Mambo in the ballroom, Salon de Baile
Miss Círculo Cubano de Tampa
Miss Círculo Cubano de Tampa
The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Celebrating our building’s 100th Centennial Anniversary (1917-2017)