El Centro Español (Spanish Club) was issued a charter by the State of Florida in 1891. El Centro was the first social and mutual aid society established in Ybor City. Cigar manufacturer Ignacio Haya was selected as the club’s first president.
In the following years, membership grew, and a new brick clubhouse was finished in 1912, replacing the original wooden structure. Spanish, Moorish and French Renaissance architecture influenced the design of the larger clubhouse. Today, El Centro Español is recognized as a National Historic Landmark.
History of Spanish Zarzuelas
In the 1600s, King Philip IV, known as the “Poet King,” and his wife, Queen Mariana of Spain, held theatrical recitals in their garden outside one of their palaces. Originally a hunting lodge, they renovated the structure and turned it into a small palace for their enjoyment. Thorn-covered bushes called “Zarza” were plentiful on the property, and over time the palace became known as the “Palace of the Zarzuelas.” As performances continued, they took on the same name. For the next 200 years, this musical theater style evolved in Spanish culture, and Zarzuelas are still performed in theatres worldwide today.
CIGAR CITY MAGAZINE- JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2006
Art & Photography Contributors: Hillsborough County Public Library, Tampa Bay History Center, The Florida State Archives, The Tampa Tribune/Tampa Bay Times, University of South Florida Department of Special Collections, Ybor City Museum Society, private collections and/or writer.
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