In 1905, Valentín Aguirre, Elías Aguirre, Juan Cruz Aguirre, Escolástico Uriona, and Toribio Altuna gathered to discuss creating the first Basque association in New York. As a result of this, in 1913, the Centro Vasco-Americano Sociedad (the New York Basque Club) was formed. At first, the club’s purpose was to create a Basque community within the city devoted to assisting newly arrived immigrants from the Basque region, and to serve as a charity organization that provided Basque immigrants with financial support. Despite families being able to participate in events, the association had only male organizers. According to La Prensa’s “28 Members Raise $26,500 for the New York Basque Club” article, club members, who were unable to work due to sickness, were provided with $10 USD weekly and with a doctor.
In 1922, the club formed its first soccer (bolmpié) team comprised of some newly arrived Basques. This team was part of the Metropolitan League. To celebrate the team’s success, the club held a banquet to celebrate on April 28, 1923. Since there was no Basque Club building, the celebration was held at Valentín Aguirre’s Santa Lucia hotel. On April 10th, 1923, the club affiliated itself with the Hispanic Society Federation (Federación de Sociedades Hispanas). Then on May 12, 1928, the club celebrated the inauguration of its first building by hosting a banquet that same day, and on May 18th it held a dance party. On the committee was: Valentín Aguirre as honorary president, Juan Zabal as president, Antonio Elorriaga as vice president, Luis Garagarza as secretary, Guillermo Garay as treasurer, Juan Cruz Aguirre as accountant, and Jose Altuna as collector. The new building had a bar and billiards on the first floor, on the second floor it had a gym and a court to play ball or tennis, the offices were on the third floor, and the fourth floor had six furnished bedrooms.
Post-World War II, the association faced many difficulties, which caused its location to be moved various times around the city. After several years of moving around, the club finally established itself in a Polish neighborhood in Brooklyn. Its current address is 307 Eckford Street Brooklyn, New York 11222. The new building includes: a large kitchen, a dining room, a small meeting area/language classroom, a small library, and a reception hall with a piano and a stage.
As of now, a full membership costs $200 and a senior membership costs $100. In the website’s homepage, it was stated to, “Remember that the function of the club is to keep the Basque culture alive in all its forms (dance, music, gastronomy, mythology …) and to maintain contact with everybody who loves Euskalerria.” The club continues to hold social events. On Sundays, the center offers beginner and intermediate Eusreka language classes for adults and children from 12pm to 2pm. Each month, $50 must be paid for the classes. The website also provides information on how to play Mus, the Basque card game. If you want to learn more about the Centro Vasco check out its website.