San Carlos Theatre

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The San Carlos Institute is a Cuban heritage center founded in 1871 by Cuban exiles who came to Key West to plan the campaign for Cuba's independence from Spain. José Dolores Poyo and Juan María Reyes, two distinguished leaders of Key West's Cuban community, proposed the establishment of an organization dedicated to promoting Cuban cultural values and patriotic ideals.

The San Carlos was principally supported by the contributions of the Cuban tobacco workers of Key West who donated a substantial portion of their modest wages to the Institute.

The San Carlos Institute was inaugurated on November 11, 1871 in a small wooden building located on Anne Street near Key West's old city hall. It was named after Cuba's Seminario San Carlos, a place of higher learning renowned for its academic excellence.

Father Félix Varela, an accomplished educator, philosopher, and humanitarian taught at the Seminario San Carlos and planted in his students the seed of Cuba's independence and the need for the state to promote humanistic values.