El Centro Asturiano has been part of the Tampa community for over 100 years and is one of the original mutual aid societies of Ybor City. Founded in 1902, the club catered to Spanish immigrants who came to Ybor City in search for a better life.
The Centro Asturiano was modeled on other mutual aid societies in Ybor City, including the Centro Español and the Italian Club. Its membership was predominantly made up of immigrants from the Spanish region of Asturias. Club members received medical assistance, health insurance, use of all the facilities in the building, and a guaranteed space in the club cemetery. The Centro Asturiano was a hub of immigrant social life in Ybor city. As community member K.R. Lombardia recalls, “I remember coming with my grandfather and downstairs there would be a hundred guys playing dominoes, or cards, and smoking cigars.”
The first building burned down in 1910. In 1914, the grand building that stands on the corner of Nebraska and Palm Avenue opened its doors. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The historic structure measures 85 by 195 feet and was designed under the supervision of Bonfoey and Elliott Architects. The designers sought to give it a classic Greek Doric order inclination, emphasizing the magnificent appearance of the building as a whole rather than each individual part.
The Centro Asturiano holds the longest marble onyx bar in the world! It is located on the first floor, which also features a large gymnasium, a Cantina for dominoes and chess, billiard tables and bowling alleys. Offices for the directors of the Club are located on the second floor, as are a library, educational rooms, a smoking room, a ladies’ parlor, and an auditorium with elegant balconies. The Grand Ballroom, located on the third floor, has fourteen original mirrors. When the building first opened in 1914, it featured an extended Sanitorium with room for 60 patients, a general medical practice room, and a surgical room.
Today, the Centro Asturiano hosts wedding celebrations, comedy shows, musicals, recitals, bingo nights, auctions, and more. The Tampa Bay Times describes the Centro Asturiano as “a monument to the memory of those who have devoted their best endeavors to the welfare of the institution, and a palace to those who stand faithful to its noble ideals.”