Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cazin/Howard/Westown Theatre at the Sicilian Club (West Tampa)


Location: 2001 North Howard Avenue
Status: The building still stands, but is in terrible condition.

1932 (Cazin)


1934 (Cazin)


1943 (Howard)


August 19, 2010
(Photo Credit: Andy Callahan)

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

it was first the Cazin then Howard theater then finally the WESTOWN!!!!!in the 50's

Anonymous said...

In the 50's my father tooks us to the Westown.....I remember just as it was yesterday when my brothers n I went with our father....My brother saw for the first time... Casper the white friendly ghost..he cried all the way home......

Anonymous said...

Listed in the 1950 Film Daily Yearbook...400 seats.

Kelly said...

From Andy Callahan's flickr post:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ferret111/4923223973/

The Cazin Theatre appeared on the scene sometime in the 1920s, if not earlier, on the busy Howard Avenue commercial corridor. The theater became the Howard by the 40s and likely closed sometime in the 60s.

West Tampa was originally an independent city. It was the brainchild of Scotsman Hugh MacFarlane, who set up the city and attracted dozens of cigar companies. West Tampa was annexed by Tampa in 1925 and started to go downhill after World War II; the cigar business virtually left West Tampa altogether. The Feds built Interstate 4 (now 275) just a block south of the Main Street business district while the City built the North Boulevard projects along the river.

Howard Avenue at Union, Tampa.

Kelly said...

From www.cinematreasures.org, Post by Nick DiMaggio:

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.

Kelly said...

From http://www.westtampachamber.com/history.html

In 1916 Sicilians organized to build the Sicilian Club (La Sicilia); the building remains at the corner of Howard and Spruce Street.

Anonymous said...

My father, Leon S. Cazin, owned the Cazin Theatre, as well as the Royal Theatre, back in the early
30s. He also Founded the Latin American Fiesta in 1927 with the first Fiesta being held on a RR Flatcar in West Tampa. He ran the
Fiesta each year until his death in
1973. Albert

Kelly said...

Hi Albert,
WOW! Would love to connect with you about your father's theatres. My email address is bambookazoo@yahoo.com
Thank you so much for your post!
Kelly

Chelsea Watts said...

Hi all! I am a USF PhD student working on a West Tampa project through the USF Library. I would LOVE to talk to anyone who knows about this theater or the other theater in West Tampa.

cawatts@mail.usf.edu

Chelsea

TampaPix said...

The Cazin operated at a different location before it occupied the Sicilian Club at 2001 N. Howard.

On the 1930 and 1935 Census in Tampa, Leon S. 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, Selim, worked as a peddler and was listed as Syrian from Turkey.

According to Tampa 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.

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 theatre 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 theatre to be mentioned at the Sicilian Club at 2001 N. Howard is the Sicilia Theatre in 1932. The theatre 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.

TampaPix said...

Well, I'm not sure that my first comment posted. It said I would be asked to log in after I posted, but got no confirmation. Here's the first part of my post. Please excuse if duplicated.

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. 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 theatre 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 theatre to be mentioned at the Sicilian Club at 2001 N. Howard is the Sicilia Theatre in 1932. The theatre 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 theatre 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.

TampaPix said...

About Mr. Cazin:

On the 1930 and 1935 Census in Tampa, he 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, Selim, worked as a peddler and was listed as Syrian from Turkey.

TampaPix said...

This is a year by year listing of my city directory findings for the Cazin and the Sicilian Club from which I made my conclusions in my first message.

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. A 1933 issue of La Gaceta has a photo of Leon Cazin as the president of the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce

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 1/2 Main.

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

Anonymous said...

I was in this building today, January 17, 2014.

A friend dragged me over because he'd seen a post about some kind of thrift store which had been operating in the building ending its operations and was literally giving away the store, for free.

No lights on. Should probably have been illegal to have people into the building. It was in deplorable shape. Wandered with a huge crowd into the back/theater portion, huge piles of various stuff strewn everywhere. Could hardly see a thing looking up into the gloom. Was like the place had been bombed. Barely looked like a theater.

But it looks gorgeous from the outside. Would be a pity if the structure cannot be repurposed before it's torn down.