If you've lived in the Tampa Bay area for any length of time, you've heard a lot about the area's rich history.
From invading pirates to cigars in Ybor City, we know how to celebrate. There's another place that takes us back in time to 1917, and it will soon be used as another venue for the Republican National Convention.
The Cuban Club in Ybor stands firmly on the spot it was born 95 years ago, right on Avenida Republica De Cuba. It was this building that allowed that historic area of town and those who frequented the place to put down roots.
"This is the mutual aid society. The Cuban Club was built because when the cigar factories started the workers who came from Havana would come to Tampa, and they would leave," Cuban Club Treasurer Patrick Mantega said. "It was dirt roads, mosquitoes, alligators. There was nothing here to keep them, so the cigar workers and cigar owners created a place where they could take care of their social needs."
Any place that's 95 years old is going to need some touch ups now and then. With the RNC here and every day of the convention booked solid, the increase in money flow couldn't come at a better time.
"It's going to be a tremendous financial benefit to us," Mantega said. "We hope to make one-third of what we would make in a year, and then all that money goes to a non-profit, which runs this building. And it will allow us to put money back in here to keep this historic building the treasure it is."
The RNC had heard well in advance about the Cuban Club. They knew they would have to add it to the list of happening venues.
"This is a historic building in a historic city, and it's really a neat experience for any delegate or convention-goer that's going to come through here," Kyle Downey of the RNC said. "It's also an example of the impact the convention will have on the Tampa Bay community."
As the Cuban Club's treasurer, Mantega has seen Democrats and Republicans help preserve history.
"They wrote a check to be here," he said. "The Republicans are here, and they're going to write a check. We're happy to take anyone's check."
FOX 13's Tom Curran contributed to this report.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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