Howard Theatre

2001 N. Howard Avenue,
Tampa, FL 33607

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Howard Theatre

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The Cazin Theatre appeared on the scene sometime in the 1920’s. It was located in the then-independent city of West Tampa on the busy Howard Avenue commercial strip. It had changed its name to the Howard Theatre by the early-1940’s.

West Tampa was annexed by the City of Tampa and subsequently declined with the departure of the cigar business, combined with urban renewal and the construction of Interstate 4 (now 275). The building remains standing, but, while preservationists have begun to pay more attention to West Tampa, will likely sit vacant for some years to come.

Contributed by Andy

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

AndyCallahanMajorMajor
AndyCallahanMajorMajor on August 25, 2010 at 5:00 pm

This picture is from August 2010.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on August 29, 2010 at 5:54 am

Wouldn’t ya love ta get inta that place? Looks in pretty good shape. Hope it gets saved!

Anyone have more info or more photos?

Nunzienick
Nunzienick on August 30, 2010 at 11:31 pm

This theatre was also known as the Westown Theatre for a period of time. It may also have had an additional name although I can’t be certain without further research. I believe it closed either in the late 50s or very early 60s. As I recall the building was built as a combination clubhouse/stageplay theatre. 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. I was lucky enough to see the interior around the mid-1990s when a new owner purchased the building and had hoped to rennovate it. I was driving by one day and saw the doors were open.

The interior was a disaster. The auditorium was literally falling apart. Crumbling would be a better definition! 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 mildrew everywhere. A huge chandelier still hung from the ceiling but barely. I wouldn’t dare walk under it. 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. Not a very safe place to explore.

The exterior was cleaned-up and the windows and frames were repainted a couple years ago as part of a neighborhood revitalization project. But nothing was done to preserve the interior. There’s no way this theatre could be salvaged. It’s too far gone. There were probably several owners/operators over the years judging by the various name changes. Will try to research more on the next library trip.

Some additional exterior shots:

1932:
http://digital.hcplc.org/burgert/archive01/277.jpg
1934:
View link
1935:
View link

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on August 31, 2010 at 12:29 am

Thanks for the exterior photos Nick. Good to see you back on C.T.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 31, 2010 at 12:42 am

Yeah,me too,old friend.

Nunzienick
Nunzienick on August 31, 2010 at 1:46 am

Thanks guys. It’s great to be back on CT!

AndyCallahanMajorMajor
AndyCallahanMajorMajor on August 31, 2010 at 2:21 am

Thanks, Nick. I was hoping you’d chime in on this one.

tampapix
tampapix on November 13, 2013 at 10:42 pm

My parents had their wedding reception here on the 2nd floor in 1948. The West Tampa Chamber of Commerce website says it was built in 1916 by the Sicilians as the Sicilian Club.

tampapix
tampapix on November 15, 2013 at 3:31 am

Information about the Cazin up to 1936, from Tampa City Directories: The Cazin operated at a different location before it occupied the Sicilian Club at 2001 N. Howard. Here’s the story:

According to Tampa city directories, the Cazin family moved from Raleigh NC to Tampa by 1915 and lived at 235 Main St. in WT. (The Cazin family came to the US from Cuba in 1909—They were Turkish-Syrian). 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.

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.

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 runs the theater and the dry goods business, but by 1929, Leon started Cazin & Co, an insurance business, with two other partners, and is 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 not until 1930 that the Sicilian Club is located 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 previously mentioned. (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.)

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

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

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.

The Cazin Theatre no longer appears 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.

So in conclusion, it appears that the Sicilian Club started around 1917 on Main St., moved into their new building at 2001 N. Howard in 1928-29 where the Sicilia Theatre opened in 1931-32. Then in 1932-33, the theater became Leon Cazin’s “Cazin Theatre” for a couple of years to 1934, having moved from previous locations at 1704 Howard and 2307 Cherry Street.

Here are the directory listings that the above is obtained from: 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.) 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.) 1934 – Sicilian Club, 2001 N. Howard, Philip Ciaravella sec. Cazin Theatre, 2001 N. Howard, Leon Cazin, home 1914 Carmen, projectionist. 1933 – Sicilian Club, no listing. Cazin Theatre, 2001 N. Howard, Leon Cazin home, 1914 Carmen. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 ½ Main. 1927 Sicilian Benefit Society, 2112 Main, Antonio Italiano, pres. Cazin Theatre 1704 Howard, Leon Cazin 1137 ½ Main. 1926 Sicilian Benefit Society W. 712 Main. Leon Cazin, dry goods and home, 237 Main. 1925 Sicilian Society 712 W. Main. Leon Cazin dry goods 237 Main, home 235 Main. 1924 Sicilian Society 712 Main. Leon Cazin, home 235 Main, film operator at Casino Theater (1536 E. Broadway) 1923 Sicilian Society 712 Main, A. Capello sec. No listing for Cazin, directory skips from Cam to Das. 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 1921 Sicilian Society of West Tampa, 712 Main, Stefano Italiano pres, Antonio Cappello sec. Selim Cazin & Hala (Leon’s parents) cigar mfr 233 Main, home 235 Main. No listing for Leon. 1920 Sicilian Society, 712 Main St, A. Feraro pres, S. Antinori treas, A. Cappello sec, Leon Cazin, home 235 Main, film operator. 1919 Sicilian Society, 712 Main, S. Italiano pres, S. Antinori treas, A. Cappello sec. Cazin – no listing 1918 Sicilian Society of West Tampa, 712 Main, Stephen Italiano pres, Selim Cazin, cigar mfr 233 Main, home 235 Main. 1917 Sicilian Society – no listing Selim Cazin, cigar mfr 233 Main, home 235 Main 1916 Sicilian Society – no listing Selim Cazin, home 235 Main, S. Cazin & J. Vicaris, cigar mfrs, 233 Main 1915 Sicilian Society – no listing Cazin, Salim 235 Main, druggist 1914 Sicilian Society – no listing Cazin – no listing

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