Time For West Tampa - A Tour of Howard Avenue - Page 3
Photos from Jan. 2004
This feature is currently being edited.



1803 N. Howard Ave.

This unique building at Howard Ave. and Union Street was the home of the West Tampa Community Development Corp in 2004.  It still shows its original design at the top and the curved walls when the building was George Guida's store, the "Home Depot" of its day.  Before that it was an A & P Grocery Store.

These were once Guida's store front windows where among other wares, he displayed TVs that he left turned on in the evenings so passersby could watch "I Love Lucy."

Union St. was originally named Oak St. before 1927.

Before 1927, this was 1402 Howard Avenue and Oak Street.


Up until 1924, there were no buildings on the east side of Howard Avenue on this block.  Today's Union St. was called Oak St.  The 1925 directory shows this was still the 1400 block and the first building at this location was Jesus Cohalla's restaurant at 1402 Howard Ave. Even-numbered addresses were on the east side of Howard, odd-numbered ones were on the west side.

In 1926, the addresses on Howard Avenue were renumbered and 1402 became 1801.  Addresses on the east side of Howard became odd numbered, those on the west side became even-numbered.  The 1927 directory shows Jesus Cohalla's restaurant still in business on the northeast corner of Howard and Oak (Union.)

In 1929, the West Tampa Drug Store opened on the northeast corner of Howard and Union St. at 1801-1803 and occupied two lots.  Oak St. was renamed Union St. in 1927.


In 1931, the A & P grocery store and Anello Ice Cream Parlor opened at the northeast corner of Howard and Union St.

In 1932, Anello's Ice Cream Parlor became El Polaco Cafe.

Same businesses at 1801 and 1803 Howard, but some others on the block have moved out and now vacant.


1820-1822 N. Howard Ave.  Alessi Bakery Building
This was the home of the Alessi Brothers Bakery from 1933 until they moved to their current location on Cypress in the 1960s.
The 1931 date at the top of the building marks the year that this building became the home of Patrone's and Alessi Bakery.



This building, as well as the Macfarlane building, can be seen in this photo identified to be from 1909.**  In 1909 the addresses were 144 and 146 Howard Ave.  The Tampa city directory businesses section for that year does not list any business at 144 Howard.  It does list Macfarlane Investment Co. and a Robert Mugge saloon at 146, and Vincenzo Culato shoemaker and Pietro Cimino grocery at 140. 
**See why this photo is likely to be from 1914 or later.  
Photo from "West Tampa and the Cigar Industry" at USF Special Collections. 


The same view in 2004.  Notice the decorative blocks along the lower corner of the front facade of the Alessi building remain from the original stone front facade.


The 1899 map at the left shows this location was originally a wooden dwelling at 144 Howard Ave.


The 1915 Sanborn Fire Insurance map at right, from the University of Florida Digital Collections, shows the new building was a 2-story cement block building and housed a saloon.  There were no structures on the opposite side of the street.


Italiano & Son Saloon
Tampa city directories show that by 1914, it housed the Italiano & Son Saloon (Ignazio and Tony.)  The 1415 address seen on the map would change to 1820 Howard in 1926.  See above directory listings.

The small wooden (yellow) structure below the saloon at 1413 (previously 140) Howard (later 1818 Howard) was Peter Cimino's grocery store as early as 1908 into the mid 1930s.

Originally established in Ybor City, the Italiano & Son saloon had moved to the block north of here in 1911, where it operated for two years.  Then in 1913 it moved to 1415 Howard.  The saloon became Italiano & Son Liquors in 1915. 

The business sections of Tampa's directories have no listing for a business at 144 Howard or 1415 Howard or the corner of Howard & Chestnut, from 1903 to 1913.  This includes cigar factories and manufacturers.  The first business listed at this location was Italiano & Son saloon in the 1914 city directory.  This building appears to have been built in 1913 as the Italiano saloon.

In 1918, Italiano & Son Liquors moved to 1503 Howard, the block north of Chestnut Street and Ignazio opened a grocery store at 1403 Howard and I. Italiano & Co at 1407 Howard.  Perhaps he foresaw the coming of Prohibition, which put an end to saloons in 1919.  Many saloons became ice cream shops.



One source says that this building was built for the Priscilieno Fernandez cigar factory in 1903. This does not appear to be likely according to city directories and censuses.  From 1903 to 1908, Priscilieno Fernandez was a cigar maker.  It is not until 1912 that he owns a cigar factory, and it is located at Chestnut St. and North Blvd.




This photo of the April 8, 1918 West Tampa fire shows Howard Avenue looking south from Chestnut Street.  1415 Howard Avenue can be seen on the right.  At this time, it was a barber shop belonging to either Stephen Rodriguez or Peter Albano. 

Photo provided by Maura Barrios from the Armando Mendez collection of slides at USF Special Collections Library.



Alessi Bakery and founder Nicolo Alessi

Nicolo Alessi was born in Palazzo Adriano, Sicily, on July 14, 1878 and came to America at age 25 from Naples, Italy, to the Port of NY on Jan. 25, 1903 on the vessel "Nuestria." 

On Feb. 3, 1907, he married Rosalia Massaro in Tampa, a daughter of Carmelo and Josephine Massaro.  Rosalia was born Dec. 25, 1886; in Santo Stefano Quisquino, Sicily.  Nicolo worked as a cigar maker and on the 1910 census in Tampa, Nick and Rosalia lived in the home of her parents on Cherry Street; they all worked as a cigar makers in a factory. 

In 1911, Nick took an opportunity to open a bakery in Jacksonville with his brother-in-law, Ignazio Massaro.  The business was listed there only in 1912, so it appears that it didn't last long, and they returned to Tampa.  

Alessi & Massaro in 1912, the only year they are listed in Jacksonville

According to Nick's 1918 WW1 draft registration, he worked at the at Pendas Alvarez cigar factory on Cherry St. in Tampa as a "sail maker."  Pendas Alvarez was a cigar factory and his occupation was probably a misinterpretation of the draft office clerk who was told "cigar maker." 
Click thumbnail image to enlarge


Nick's 1918 city directory listing shows he was a "reader" (Lector.)  Lectors were men hired by the factory workers themselves for the purpose of reading to them as they worked.  Everything from the local, national and world news to classic novels were read by the lectors.

On the 1920 census, Nick was back in the bakery business as a baker in his own shop at 734 Cherry Street.  His brother-in-law, Ignazio Massaro, worked as a delivery driver for the bakery.  Nick and Rosalia had children Johnnie, Carmelo, Frances and Joseph by 1920.  By 1930, they had a daughter named Felicia. 

Nick Alessi 1920 Census, West Tampa

According to a video on the history of Alessi Bakery, in 1923, Nick moved with his family to Italy where operated a bakery a couple of blocks from the Vatican.  But when the Alessi family arrived back in the U.S. on March 16, 1925 on the SS Conte Rosso, the ship's manifest showed Nicolo's occupation was "trader."  He was 48, Rosalia was 38.  With them were their children Giovanni (John), Carmelo, Francesca, and Giuseppe (Joseph.)

Passenger manifest of SS Conte Rosso, March 16, 1925
Click the image to see larger, then click that image to view full size.

Nick then worked as a baker for Attilio Patrone at Patrone's Bakery at 1815 N. Howard Ave.; the southeast corner of Howard and Chestnut in West Tampa (across from the building in the above photo.) 

Patrone's Bakery in 1931 at 1815 N. Howard Ave; the southeast corner of Howard and Chestnut. 

Next to the bakery was S. Nocilla's barber shop. 

Burgert Bros. photo courtesy David Parsons of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.

Patrone & Alessi

Attilio Patrone was born on July 18, 1883 in Spezia, Italy and arrived in the U.S. at age 23 at the port of New York from Genoa, Italy on July 7, 1906 on the SS Indiana.  He settled in Pittsburgh, PA, where he petitioned for U.S. citizenship on Feb. 11, 1910.  At that time, he was 5' 7", 147 lbs., with brown hair and blue eyes. On Jan. 16, 1917, Patrone's petition for naturalization was granted while he was still living in Pittsburgh.  On all of Patrone's naturalization documents, his occupation was baker.  By 1926, Patrone had moved to Tampa where he opened his bakery at 1815 N. Howard Ave.

Close up portion of Patrone's Bakery at 1815 Howard Avenue, 1931.  "Celo" was a popular soft drink in the mid 1920s to the 1930s,  made from celery in Florida and bottled in Tampa.  Notice ad on door, "Zepp, it peps you up," probably another soft drink. 
Burgert Bros. photo courtesy David Parsons of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.

Salvatore Nocilla's barber shop at 1813 Howard Ave, cropped from the above photo. Notice ads for Nehi, Coca Cola, Orange Crush, Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale and Foremost Ice Cream "curb service."  Burgert Bros. photo courtesy David Parsons of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.

After Patrone's moved across Howard Avenue in 1931, the old Patrone's location became home to Frank Maurici grocery in 1932 and then Chiro Maurici liquors in 1933.  Florida ratified the 21st amendment (repealing the 18th amendment, the Volstead act) on Nov. 14, 1933.

Today, the first Patrone's bakery location is a vacant lot, but the building on the right which housed Nocilla's barber shop and the Maurici businesses still can be seen from the 1931 photo above in the street view photo at right.

The 1930 census of Attilio Patrone in Tampa shows he was boarding in the home of George Greenly and family at 1914 Cass St.

In 1931, Patrone's Bakery expanded when it moved across Howard Avenue to 1820 Howard Ave., the southwest corner of Howard and Chestnut. 

Aug. 13, 1931 - It was at this time the bakery was renamed "Patrone's and Alessi Bakery" as seen on the side of the building in the 1931 photo below.  Burgert Bros. photo courtesy of David Parsons at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.

Close ups of the people in the above photo




The Tampa-Hillsborough Co. Library shows this photo cataloged as "Staff in front of Patrone's Bakery," but the man is dressed more like an owner than a staff member.  He appears to be the right age to be Attilio Patrone.

Patrone's Bakery at 1820 Howard Ave. and Chestnut St., Aug. 13, 1931.
Notice the signage on the side of the building, "Patrone and Alessi" and on the smaller structure in the back, "Bakery."

In 1933, Attilio Patrone entered the restaurant business as the manager of Roma Restaurant at 1002 1/2 Franklin St.  The bakery at 1820 Howard Avenue then became "Alessi Brothers."  The signage on the front was changed to "Alessi Bakery" and on the side, "Patrone" was replaced with "Alessi" so it reads "Alessi and Alessi."




Nick Alessi's son, John Alessi started his own bakery in the mid 1940s.  John’s son Phil Alessi started working in his father’s shop when he was 6 years old around 1949.  By the time Phil turned 20, in 1963 he had opened "Phil’s Bakery" at 2909 W. Cypress, the Alessi Bakery we know today.

Phil's son, Phil Jr., began working in the bakery when he was 6 years old, too.  Like his father, Phil Jr., the CEO in 2012 of Alessi Bakeries, attributed the family’s success to its passion for the baking industry and for those who came before him.

Read more about Phil Alessi, Jr. and the diversified business that Alessi Bakery had become.

Tampa's Alessi Family




The Macfarlane building was built with four equal size spaces to rent on the first floor, and an entrance, which can be seen here in the center, that led to a staircase to the 2nd floor.  After 1911, the building had five addresses, one for each of the four spaces on the first floor, and a ½ address for the 2nd floor, which housed offices and later, furnished rooms for rent.

The building was named for Hugh C. Macfarlane, "the father of West Tampa."  Located on the northwest corner of Howard Ave. and Chestnut.  Now it is "Boni Sales Store, a door vendor.



1902 - 1908 Howard Ave.
The Macfarlane Building

This Italian palazzo style brick building was built in 1905 by the Macfarlane Investment Company.  The building's original address was 146 Howard Avenue (See maps below.) 


In 1906, it became the offices of the West Tampa Building & Loan Assoc. which was previously located at 104 Francis Ave. and the Macfarlane Investment Co.


1907 Tampa City Directory


In 1910, this building housed the Macfarlane Investment Co., the West Tampa Building & Loan Assoc, the city clerk's office, the West Tampa Superintendant of Public Works office (Hugh C. Macfarlane, Supt.,) the WT tax collector's office, and the WT treasurer's office.

In 1911, the addresses along Howard were renumbered and this location became 1501, 1503, 1503½, 1505 and 1507 Howard Avenue.  Also in 1911, the West Tampa Land & Improvement Co. moved here from 304 Main Street.

1912 Tampa City Directory


After these companies moved to the Citizens Bank Building downtown, this location was occupied by various businesses-- Rudy Garcia's El Boulevard Cafe from 1924 to 1935,  Rafael Menendez Drugs / La Habanera Drug Co. from 1923 to 1935, Harry Edelson's Tailor shop, Jose Mongiovi Shoe Repair, and on the 2nd floor, Olive Victor furnished rooms and later, Juan & Cora Jiminez furnished rooms.


West Tampa was annexed by Tampa on Jan. 1, 1925 and in 1926 the address became 1902 - 1908 Howard Ave. 



Howard Ave. from Main St. to Chestnut, 1899


Howard Ave. from Main St. to Chestnut,

The red rectangle marks the location in 1899 (left) and 1903 (right) of where the Macfarlane building was built in 1905.  On these maps, the location was occupied by a wood frame dwelling.

The blue rectangle marks the future site of Patrone's bakery, detailed in the next section of this feature.

In 1899 (left), Howard Avenue was interrupted between Oak St. (today's Union St.) and Main St. by the O'Halloran cigar factory.  A street ran on the west and east side (Ysolina) of the factory property to get around it.

By 1903 (right), the street on the west side of the factory was eliminated and Howard Avenue was extended directly through the property to connect to the intersection at Main Street.

As seen on the 1903 map, the Fernandez Bros. cigar factory occupied what used to be the upper left corner of the original O'Halloran property.

Wood frame structures are depicted in yellow, brick structures in pink.


Arenas building - 2001 N. Armenia

Taking a momentary detour off Howard Avenue, we'll go west on Spruce Street and cross over Armenia Avenue, to turn around and look back at the Arenas Building at 2001 N. Armenia.

This brick building dates back to 1932 when it was Optimo Coffee Mills, owned by Bernardo and Jennie Arenas, and frequented by the Santaella cigar factory workers on the next block to the south at 1906 N. Armenia (now the West Tampa Center for the Arts).

1933 city directory listings show for N. Armenia Ave.


"Optimo" was a brand of cigar.  It came to market in 1898 and was originally created by Antonio Santaella, who began manufacturing cigars in 1886. By the 1920s, Optimo cigars were being enjoyed by some of the worlds most iconic individuals like Babe Ruth and Winston Churchill who were known to enjoy a mild Optimo cigar regularly. By 1945, Santaella had factories in Key West and Tampa before opening up its famed Clearwater facility in Florida in 1946. In 1955, the Clearwater facility closed its doors for good and the factory was sold to Universal Cigar Co.  Information from Cigar.com.

Through the years, this building was home to many small family businesses. 

In the late 1950s to early 1960s it was Dan and Dalia Diaz' Tampa Appliance Repair.  Photo courtesy of Donna Diaz-Salgado, daughter of Dan & Dalia Diaz.

In 2007, this was the home of "Vivia's Kitchen" restaurant, which has since gone the way of the Santaella cigar factory--closed.

Vivia re-opened as the chef at Datz Deli, located at 2616. S. MacDill Ave.

In 2010, it was the location of Castillo's Cafe & Catering, which later relocated to 1715 N. Armenia.



This Jan. 2011 photo shows the old Sicilian Club at 2001 N. Howard Avenue.  It was designed by architect Fred J. James who also designed the West Tampa Centro Espanol, the Tampa Free Public (Carnegie) Library, the Pendas y Alvarez cigar factory at Albany and Cherry Street, and other Tampa buildings.  The front portion of the building contained the clubhouse with a dance floor upstairs and the theatre in the rear which was later converted to a movie house.  In the 1930s it also housed the Cazin Theatre.    

The Sicilian Club of West Tampa started around 1917 on Main St., and moved into this new building at 2001 N. Howard in 1928-29 where the Sicilia Theatre opened in 1931-32. Then in 1932-33, the theatre became Leon Cazin's "Cazin Theatre" for a few years to 1935, having moved from previous locations at 1704 Howard and 2307 Cherry Street.  It later became the Westown Theatre up until around the late 1950s or very early 1960s. 

Nick at Cinema Treasures had the opportunity in the 1990s to see the inside when it was bought by a new owner (who converted it into a boxing gym for a short time.)  The interior was a disaster. The auditorium was literally falling apart, crumbling.  There were holes in the ceiling and a portion of the roof over the stage loft had collapsed. Whenever it rained the auditorium must have been soaked with pools of water accumulating on the main level. There was mold and mildew everywhere. A huge chandelier still hung from the ceiling but barely. The screen was long gone and all seats on the main level were also gone although the balcony still had several rows of seats in place. The booth had been stripped. The cement floor of the balcony had small holes in various spots clear through where you could see down to the main level.  Several years ago, the exterior was cleaned-up and the windows and frames were repainted as part of a neighborhood revitalization project. But nothing was done to preserve the interior.


The Sicilian Society of West Tampa first appears in 1918 at 712 Main St., where they are located through 1926 (when they are listed as the Sicilian Benefit Society.) Their 1922 listing at this address also lists the Siciliana Italian Club.  It is not until 1930 that the Sicilian Club is listed at 2001 N. Howard, the location we know today. It's apparent that if this brick building was built for the club, it was built in 1929, and not in 1919 as mentioned in other sources. (In 1920 this location is a rooming house; not a business that would be located in a building such as the one we see there now.)


Leon S. Cazin, President of the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce who has organized Latin Night at the greyhound racetrack of Sulphur Springs.  Photo from La Gaceta, 1933.

On the 1930 and 1935 census in Tampa, Leon Cazin was listed as the proprietor of a moving picture theater. His declaration of intention for naturalization (he was born in Havana) in 1919 shows that he was age 19 and worked as a moving picture machine operator and lived at 235 Main St. in West Tampa. He came to the US from Cuba at age 8 in 1909 on the Olivette, with his parents (his father Salim, which was also Leon's middle name, and his mother, Hala, both of whom were Syrian, and his brother, Cesar.)  In 1910 the family lived in Raleigh, NC where Leon's father, Salim, worked as a peddler and was listed as Syrian from Turkey.


According to city directories, the Cazin family moved from Raleigh NC to Tampa by 1915 and lived at 235 Main St. in WT. Selim Casin was a druggist, but then by 1916 went in to business with J. Vicaris as "Casin & Vicaris", cigar manufacturers at 233 Main St. in West Tampa.

In 1920, Selim's son, Leon Cazin, was around 20 years old, living with his parents at 235 Main St., and working as a film operator, probably at the Spanish Casino Theatre (at 1536 Broadway) where he is listed as working from 1922 to 1924.


By 1925, Leon Cazin was operating a dry goods store at 237 Main St, next to the Cazin home at 235 Main. Leon was still in the dry goods business on the 1926 directory.

From 1927 to 1929, the Sicilian Benefit Society had moved to 2112 Main St. It is also in 1927 when Leon Cazin's "Cazin Theatre" first appears, but located at 1704 N. Howard (not the 2001 Howard location we see in the photos.) In 1928, Leon ran the theatre and the dry goods business, but by 1929, Leon started Cazin & Co, an insurance business, with two other partners, and was no longer in dry goods. He also ran the Cazin Theatre at 1702 Howard, which was probably the same building as 1704 Howard, but expanded.


It is also in 1930 that the Cazin Theatre moved from 1702-04 Howard to 2307 Cherry St., where it operated in 1931 as well. Leon also owned the Cazin Italian Theatre at 1731 Broadway in Ybor City in 1931 and was listed as the president of the WT Chamber of Commerce.


The first theatre to be mentioned at the Sicilian Club at 2001 N. Howard is the Sicilia Theatre in 1932. The theatre was operated by Butler E. Gore. Meanwhile, Leon Cazin was the operator of the Royal Theatre in 1932.

The Sicilian Club Cazin Theatre in 1932
Burgert Bros. photo courtesy of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library

Notice the movie poster, "Mounted Fury."  It came out in 1931 with Stuart Paton as Director,  John Bowers as Jim Leyton,  Blanche Mehaffey as Enid Marsh,  Robert Ellis as Paul Marsh,  Frank Rice as Sandy McNab,  George Rigas as Pierre LeStrange,  Lina Basquette as Nanette LeStrange,  John Ince as Big McGraw,  Lloyd Whitlock as Dick Simpson,  and Jack Trent as  Phil Grover.
Movie Plot:  Jim Leyton and Paul Marsh, two army friends, start new lives after the war. Jim becomes a Royal Canadian Mountie and Paul does well in business and marries their mutual sweetheart, Enid. The fast life in the city brings Paul to the edge of a nervous breakdown. Intending to recuperate, he and Enid visit Jim in the North woods. Soon after they arrive, Paul becomes friends with Pierre LeStrange, a half-Indian, and his wife Nanette. Paul begins drinking heavily and falls in love with Nanette. He is about to run away with her, when Pierre walks in on them. Pierre pulls a knife on Paul, but is killed himself when Nanette stabs him. She blames the murder on the wounded Paul, but on his deathbed, Paul tells Jim the truth. Jim orders Nanette to leave the country and promises the dying Paul he will take care of Enid forever.  Plot and cast from Turner Classic Movies


The first mention of the Cazin Theatre at 2001 N. Howard in the Sicilian Club building is in 1933, where it is also listed in 1934 when Leon is listed as the projectionist. It appears that the Sicilian Club was inadvertently omitted from the 1933 directory, but does appear in the 1934 directory in 1934 at the same location.


Looking south along Howard Avenue in 1934.

The Cazin Theatre no longer appeared in listings after 1934.  In 1935 and 1936, Leon Cazin was a film operator at the Garden Theatre at 907 20th Ave.  The Sicilian Club continued to operate at 2001 N. Howard in 1935 & 1936, but no theatre is listed there. Theatre listings for 1935 and 1936 also do no list the Cazin.


Burgert Bros. photo courtesy of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library



Directory listings for Cazin and the Sicilian Club in West Tampa:

  • 1914 Sicilian Society - no listing
               Cazin - no listing

  • 1915 Sicilian Society - no listing
               Cazin, Salim 235 Main, druggist

  • 1916 Sicilian Society - no listing
               Selim Cazin, home 235 Main, S. Cazin & J. Vicaris, cigar mfrs, 233 Main

  • 1917 Sicilian Society - no listing
               Selim Cazin, cigar mfr 233 Main, home 235 Main

  • 1918 Sicilian Society of West Tampa, 712 Main, Stephen Italiano pres,
               Selim Cazin, cigar mfr 233 Main, home 235 Main.

  • 1919 Sicilian Society, 712 Main, S. Italiano pres, S. Antinori treas, A. Cappello sec.
               Cazin - no listing

  • 1920 Sicilian Society, 712 Main St, A. Feraro pres, S. Antinori treas, A. Cappello sec,
               Leon Cazin, home 235 Main, film operator.

  • 1921 Sicilian Society of West Tampa, 712 Main, Stefano Italiano pres, Antonio Cappello sec.
               Selim Cazin & Hala, cigar mfr 233 Main, home 235 Main. No listing for Leon.

  • 1922 Siciliana Italian Club and Sicilian Society, 712 Main, S. Italiano pres, Vito Caruso VP, S Antinori treas, A. Cappelli sec. A.Vicari coll.
               Leon Cazin, home 263 Main, works at Spanish Casino Theater

  • 1923 Sicilian Society 712 Main, A. Capello sec.
               No listing for Cazin, directory skips from Cam to Das.

  • 1924 Sicilian Society 712 Main.
                Leon Cazin, home 235 Main, film operator at Casino Theater (1536 E. Broadway)

  • 1925 Sicilian Society 712 W. Main.
                Leon Cazin dry goods 237 Main, home 235 Main

  • 1926 Sicilian Benefit Society W. 712 Main.
                Leon Cazin, dry goods and home, 237 Main.

  • 1927 Sicilian Benefit Society, 2112 Main, Antonio Italiano, pres.
                Cazin Theatre 1704 Howard, Leon Cazin 1137 1/2 Main.

  • 1928 Sicilia Italian Club 2112 Main, Antonio Italiano pres. No mention of theater.
               Cazin Theatre 1702 N. Howard, Leon Cazin Dry Goods 1137 Main, Leon Cazin 1137 1/2 Main.

  • 1929 Sicilia Club 2112 Main, Tony Saladano mgr. No mention of theater.
               Cazin Theatre 1702 N. Howard, Leon Cazin lives at 1137 main, Cazin & Co insurance at 2133 Main with Robt. L. Hendershot & Peter Albano.

  • 1930 Sicilia Club at 2001 N. Howard. Antonio Italiano pres, Antonio Capello sec, Vito Caruso treas. No mention of theater.
               Cazin Theater at 2307 Cherry, Leon Cazin Pres. WT Chamber of Comm, lives at 1139 Main.

  • 1931 Sicilia Club at 2001 N. Howard. Daniele DiBona pres, Giuseppe Cimino sec. No mention of theater.
               Cazin Italian Theater at 1731 E. Broadway, Cazin Theater at 2307 Cherry, Leon Cazin at 1139 Main St.

  • 1932 Sicilia Club and Theater 2001 N. Howard. Philip Ciaravella sec. The theater operator is Butler E. Gore.
               Leon Cazin is the operator of the Royal Theater and he lives at 1135 Main St. No listing for Cazin Theater.

  • 1933 Sicilian Club, no listing.
               Cazin Theatre, 2001 N. Howard, Leon Cazin home, 1914 Carmen.

  • 1934 Sicilian Club, 2001 N. Howard, Philip Ciaravella sec.
               Cazin Theatre, 2001 N. Howard, Leon Cazin, home 1914 Carmen, projectionist.

  • 1935 Sicilian Club, 2001 N. Howard, Antonio Tagliarino pres, Joseph Ciaravella sec, Gatano Spoto treas.
               Cazin Theatre, no listing. Leon Cazin, home 1914 Carmen, film opr Garden Theatre (907 20th Ave, Donald A. Holcomb, mgr.

  • 1936 Sicilian Club - no listing
               Cazin Theatre, no listing. Leon Cazin, home 1914 Carmen, film opr Garden Theatre (907 20th Ave, Donald A. Holcomb, mgr.)


Adjacent to and north of the old Sicilian Club building is the La Nuova Vita (The New Life) building, built in 1928, it was an Italian grocery co-op.   The corporation dissolved on Aug. 31, 1940 with President Fidel Pines, Secretary Joe Lopez, Treasurer Joe LaBrussa, and Directors Arturo Borges, Cipriano Mendez, and Victor Pellegrino.

La Nuova Vita first appears in 1919 at 1516 Howard Ave.  This was before the address renumbering of Howard Ave. and is today's 1917 Howard Ave., the southwest corner of Howard and Spruce St., the site on the north side of the Macfarlane bldg.  Today, this is a parking lot.

New manager, same location

New manager, same location

Same manager, same location

Company officers, same location

New pres. & sec, same location

New officers and mgr., same location

Same mgr., addresses on Howard were renumbered in 1926, this is the same location as previous years.

Same mgr., same location.  The store would relocate to their new building this year.

La Nuova Vita at their new location, completed in 1928 at 2011 N. Howard Ave., on the north side of the Sicilian Club building, new officers.

New pres and VP

LaNuova Vita expands to a dept. store at the southwest corner of Spruce and Howard, with grocery and meats at the current location.

New pres and VP, dry goods store still at SW corner Howard & Sprice, and a 2nd grocery store at 2013 15th St.

New officers, no mention of dry goods store or 2nd grocery store





La Nuova Vita building circa 1972





Now it is the home of Legends Boxing Club, started by Francisco Arreola in the fall of 2008, in honor of his parents, Flavio Arreola and Elvira Arreola Cornejo. 



2201 N. Howard Ave.


Olympia and Alessi Bakery were the West Tampa bakery version of  the famous Macy's and Gimbel's of New York.  Olympia is still located here at Howard Ave. and Pine Street.  Alessi moved out of the area many years ago to Cypress St.


Click to see goodies inside

olympiainside.jpg (78378 bytes)





Across from Olympia is this cigar factory at 2202 N. Howard Avenue (at Pine Street).  According to the photo essay by Hampton Dunn, this was the San Martin & Leon cigar factory pictured in his article.  Another source says it was the Gil C.M. Cigar Company and later the home of Frayne Sportswear.  Could be it was all three but different time periods.

1895 photo of El Grifo cigar factory which once stood at this location





2306 N. Howard Avenue


The West Tampa Centro Español was located here on Howard Ave. between Cherry St. and Palmetto. 


El Centro Español was a mutual aid society / social club that offered affordable membership and provided medical and social services to its members.  Founded on September 7, 1891, and headquartered in Ybor City, this clubhouse was built in 1912 and dedicated on January 11, 1913, for the members who lived in West Tampa.  This building has a Mediterranean Revival style with Moorish details of yellow and red brick. Other features include the wrought iron balcony, terra cotta and brick cornice, and a gable and hip tile roof. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 30, 1974.  It was designed by architect Fred J. James.  Read about him and other buildings in Tampa he designed.


Read an excellent article on the creation and role of the Centro Español in Tampa's history, with photos of this building outside in 1914 and inside.


There was also a meeting house in Ybor City which can be seen in the above article.

Larger high resolution photo


Read about the renovation effort, which apparently has fallen behind.

See another photo showing the whole front of the building.




The Royal Theatre at the Centro Español Club, 1941

In the 1940s, this was the place to catch a movie or a live singing or dancing act.  Mary Cintra, "The Cuban Bombshell" and actress/dancer "Thongolele" often performed here.


   Mary Cintra, "The Cuban Bombshell"








Above, Mary in 1947 when she first came to Tampa.  She frequently performed in clubs; The Imperial Room, The Plaza Lounge, the Centro Español.  She an her group performed in later years at the Mark Twain and the old Brass Wheel.

Left, Mary in 2007

Right:  Mary's memorabilia


2007 Video of Mary Cintra and her husband on the porch of their home in Tampa.
Mary still has that Showbiz blood running through her veins!

At right: Yolanda "Tongolele" Montes (b. Yolanda Ivonne Montes Farrington, January 3, 1932, Spokane, Washington) is an exotic dancer and actress of the Cinema of Mexico. 


In Mexico she is considered the seminal "rumbera" and exotic dancer along Kalantán and Su Muy Key.

Tongolele became a professional dancer when she was only 15 years old. Her father was Spanish/ Swedish, her mother French/English and her maternal grandmother was of Tahitian descent.

She starred in several films from the 1940s through the 1980s but most people remember her from the classic 1971 film Isle of the Snake People starring Boris Karloff in one of his last roles.  Tongolele is still active in television, theatre, and nightclubs. She is still well known in Spain and Latin America.

West Tampa Cigar Factories      


See an excellent photo essay by Hampton Dunn which show pictures of almost every building in West Tampa along Howard Avenue.


Howard Ave. 1    Howard  Ave. 2    Howard Page 3    Howard Ave. 4    Howard Ave. 5


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