The Centro Asturiano de Tampa (Centro) is a social club for immigrants and the descendants of immigrants from Asturias, Spain. Historically, a hospital, cemetery and health insurance all came with membership, and the purpose of the club was to take care of members from before birth until after they died. When the building was opened in 1914, the Tampa Daily Times ran an article on the architecture and features of the new club headquarters: “It is 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” (May 16, 1914).
In the late 1880s, most of the traffic from Spain to the Americas consisted of bachelors going to Havana, Cuba looking for work. Those men who were married often immigrated alone, only to send for their families once well established in their new homeland. The cigar industry soon established many factories in Tampa that brought a wave of new immigrants from Spain, but especially from Cuba, since immigration into the United States was not limited from Cuba. Antonio Gonzales Prado, the first president of the Havana club, traveled to Tampa and was appointed the chair of a committee whose purpose was to establish health care for the workers in the cigar factories. A social club already established in Tampa, El Centro Español de Tampa, made a brief but ultimately unsuccessful attempt at creating a health care system. Approval from the parent club in Havana for the new branch was crucial. Cigar manufacturers, local doctors, and pharmacists had formed the Latin Medical Association to prevent the new club's creation. The name of the club was official changed to The Centro Asturiano de Tampa, Inc. in 1968.
Two cemeteries were established for members of the Centro Asturiano and their families. The "Old" Centro Asturiano Cemetery was established in 1904 after the cemetery land was donated for the club's use by the city of Tampa. It is located in the Ybor City neighborhood at 2504 E.21st Avenue. Among the 601 interred at the Old Centro Asturiano Cemetery is club founder Antonio Gonzales Prado, who was buried there in 1904. In 1942 the much larger Centro Asturiano Memorial Park was established. It is located along Tampa's eastern border, just outside city limits and immediately north of the Grant Park neighborhood at 5400 East Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The current building has been in use since 1914. It originally had a recreational floor, study floor, and a party floor. Today, the ballroom is still used for public dances or private events such as birthdays, wedding receptions, and anniversaries.
Cover image by Ebyabe - Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2917720