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Tampa in Hillsborough County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Il Cimitero Dell’Unione Italiana

(Italian Club Cemetery)

 
 
Il Cimitero Dell’Unione Italiana Marker image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 18, 2011
1. Il Cimitero Dell’Unione Italiana Marker
Inscription. L’Unione Italiana, founded in 1894 in Ybor City, institutionalized the Italian funeral in Tampa when in 1896 it purchased this property from the prominent African-American Armwood family and dedicated it as a cemetery. The first Italians were buried here in 1893. Also buried here is Blanche Armwood (1890-1939), a nationally known educator. The Italian cemetery includes a parcel belonging to the Societa de Mutuo Soccorso (Mutual Aid Society). Ceramic photographs on grave markers and tombstones inscribed in Sicilian and Italian pay homage to Sicily, where the stonecutters perfected their craft in granite and marble. A cherished set of rituals governed the Italian funeral. Hundreds of people walked in a cortege, often pausing for a final tribute in front of the deceased’s house and the Italian Club where flags of Italy and the United States stood at half mast. A brass band led them to the cemetery followed by family and paesani (countrymen). This ritual celebrated the decedent’s service to the community. In the early years, each club member contributed one dollar to the bereaved family. Later, the club established a $300 survivor benefit.

Florida Heritage Site

 
Erected 2001 by The Italian Club Cemetery, Inc. and the Florida Department of State. (Marker
Il Cimitero Dell’Unione Italiana Marker image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 18, 2011
2. Il Cimitero Dell’Unione Italiana Marker
"La Unione Italiana Cemetery"
North 26th Street main gate
Number F-430.)
 
Location. 27° 58.318′ N, 82° 25.842′ W. Marker is in Tampa, Florida, in Hillsborough County. Marker is at the intersection of North 26th Street and East 23rd Avenue, on the left when traveling north on North 26th Street. Click for map. The marker is located in Tampa's Jackson Heights neighborhood. It stands immediately outside the cemetery's gated enclosure, to the right of the main gate located where East 23rd Avenue meets North 26th Street.

The cemetery itself is situated along 26th Street roughly between East 22nd and East 24th Avenues.

La Unione Italiana Cemetery shares its southern border with yet another cemetery that was founded by one of the prominent Ybor City mutual aid societies/social clubs. The Cemeterio Español was founded by the Centro Español de Tampa for its membership of Spanish immigrants and their descendants. Marker is in this post office area: Tampa FL 33605, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Ossuarium Memoriale (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sgt. Nick Matassini (about 300 feet away); Florida Sentinel Bulletin (approx. ¼ mile away); St. Benedict the Moor School (approx. half a mile
Il Cimitero Dell’Unione Italiana Marker (center) image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 18, 2011
3. Il Cimitero Dell’Unione Italiana Marker (center)
Viewed from inside the cemetery, looking east down 23rd Avenue.
away); Our Lady of Perpetual Help (approx. 0.8 miles away); Columbia Restaurant (approx. 0.8 miles away); La Joven Francesa Bakery (approx. 0.9 miles away); The Rough Riders Rode By Here (approx. 0.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Tampa.
 
More about this marker. The marker is capped with the Florida Historical Marker Program logo.
 
Regarding Il Cimitero Dell’Unione Italiana. The Italian Club in Tampa's Ybor City continues to oversee the operations of the cemetery and maintain its grounds. The cemetery is open between 8 am - 3 pm daily.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
 
Also see . . .
1. Official Cemetery Website. Links to additional photos (Submitted on June 24, 2011, by Glenn Sheffield of Tampa, Florida.) 

2. "TampaPix" page on Blanche Armwood. Story and pictures of Armwood and her family (Submitted on June 24, 2011, by Glenn Sheffield of Tampa, Florida.) 
 
Categories. African AmericansCemeteries & Burial SitesFraternal or Sororal Organizations
 
Il Cimitero Dell’Unione Italiana image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 18, 2011
4. Il Cimitero Dell’Unione Italiana
Il Cimitero Dell’Unione Italiana image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 23, 2011
5. Il Cimitero Dell’Unione Italiana
Mosaic Tilework at La Unione Italiana Cemetery image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 23, 2011
6. Mosaic Tilework at La Unione Italiana Cemetery
The decoration of graves and headstones with mosaic tiles is a practice exclusive to Tampa area cemeteries. The trend reportedly began after tile mason Francesco Constantino, an immigrant from Sicily, was requested to fashion a pretty tile gravestone for an infant. Constantino went on to set up a monument company in 1906, which is still in business today, run by his grandson.
Il Cimitero Dell’Unione Italiana image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 23, 2011
7. Il Cimitero Dell’Unione Italiana
Filippo Cagnina saved the tips from his job racking balls at the Italian Club's poolroom to afford his elaborate marble bust and tomb. The bust was carved 14 years ahead of his passing, which came at age 86 in 1945.
Mausoleum at La Unione Italiana Cemetery image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 18, 2011
8. Mausoleum at La Unione Italiana Cemetery
Built with walls of 16-inch thick reinforced concrete, the structure was designed for permanence.
Armwood Family Plot at La Unione Italiana Cemetery image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 18, 2011
9. Armwood Family Plot at La Unione Italiana Cemetery
Though not of Italian or Sicilian ancestry, the Armwood family has a large plot at the cemetery. The prominent African-American family sold the land for the cemetery to the Italian Club.
Grave of Blanche Armwood Washington <small>(1890-1939)</small> image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 23, 2011
10. Grave of Blanche Armwood Washington (1890-1939)
Blanche Armwood was a significant educator, author, and community leader in the Jim Crow-era South. She established industrial arts schools in five southern states, including one in Tampa, and served as Hillsborough County's first Supervisor of Negro Schools. The granddaughter of slaves, she was the first African-American woman from Florida to achieve a law degree. Nearby Armwood High School was established in her honor in 1984.
Ossuarium Memoriale Dell’Unione Italiana image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 18, 2011
11. Ossuarium Memoriale Dell’Unione Italiana
World War II memorial at the cemetery
Cemetery section of the Societa de Mutuo Soccorso Italia image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 18, 2011
12. Cemetery section of the Societa de Mutuo Soccorso Italia
Il Cimitero Dell’Unione Italiana image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 23, 2011
13. Il Cimitero Dell’Unione Italiana
L’Unione Italiana image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 18, 2011
14. L’Unione Italiana
The Ybor City clubhouse of the Italian Club, which founded the cemetery
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Glenn Sheffield of Tampa, Florida. This page has been viewed 1,406 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Glenn Sheffield of Tampa, Florida.   4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. submitted on , by Glenn Sheffield of Tampa, Florida.   12, 13, 14. submitted on , by Glenn Sheffield of Tampa, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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