Tampa’s Cigar Factories Part 2

As I wrote about in Part 1 of this series, Tampa’s cigar factories are monuments to the city’s defining industry. In addition, the three-story brick buildings feature excellent craftsmanship and sustainable building practices. At one time, there were more than 200 cigar factories in the city, but now 24 exist. Of those, only nine have been locally designated, leaving the remaining in the hands of often inconsiderate owners, some of whom have fought local landmarking proposals.

The factories featured in this entry are all located in the West Tampa neighborhood of Tampa. West Tampa was incorporated in 1895 as a cigar industry town in an attempt to emulate the success of nearby Ybor City. West Tampa initially struggled to attract cigar manufacturers, but the city flourished once a trolley line was constructed to Tampa. Cigar factories, houses, and businesses sprung up, and thousands of Spaniards, Cubans, and Italians swarmed to the city. The city resisted incorporation into Tampa until 1925.

The downfall of the cigar industry wounded West Tampa’s economy, and it really hasn’t recovered. However, its close proximity to downtown Tampa and large stock of historic, affordable housing could very well make it the next Tampa neighborhood to experience a rebirth. It would only be fitting if rehabilitation of West Tampa’s cigar factories spurred the community’s revitalization, and there are signs of this occurring, as you will see below. Note that all the cigar factories in this entry are unprotected.

For directions to the factories, click here.

This is the map I used as a guide. This entry focuses on the factories to the left. Courtesy CigarsofTampa.com

Morgan Cigar Co. (unprotected)

Hidden by plantings, this building is now offices.

Andres Diaz Cigar Co. (unprotected)

Another rehabilitated into offices.

It too has a sign.

It was most recently home to a Scientology office. Scientologists must love cigar factories, because they have since moved to a former factory in Ybor City.

Berriman-Morgan Cigar Co. (unprotected)

Recently rehabilitated, this is now home to a college.

What an excellent example of adaptive reuse.

I'm surprised it received so much care despite the fact it abuts busy I-4. Those roof tiles need to go though.

Balbin Brothers Cigar Co. (unprotected)

Just when it looks like the former cigar factories of West Tampa are in good hands, there's this. I believe it sits empty.

I can't imagine that's good for the bricks.

A. Santaella Cigar Co. (unprotected)

This building is now home to the West Tampa Center for the Arts, my favorite example of a new use for a cigar factory.

The massive building has gallery space and work stations for artists.

It also has ghost signs!

Samuel L. Davis Cigar Co. (unprotected)

This appears to be a warehouse. The Gator Preservationist mobile also makes an appearance.

Imagine the possibilities for this building.

Prison or former cigar factory?

Y. Pendas and Alvarez Cigar Co. (unprotected)

This is probably my favorite of the 24 factories architecturally because of that clock tower.

It too appears to wasting away as a warehouse.

Bustillo and Brothers-Diaz (unprotected)

I'm not sure what this is used for now.

The renovated entrance indicates it's used for something. It's a shame those windows have been enclosed.

San Martin and Leon Cigar Co. (unprotected)

Looks like another office building.

Villazon, Garcia, and Vega Cigar Co. (unprotected)

Home to the Olivia Tobacco Company!

A cigar company in an historic cigar factory in good condition. How's that for ending on a high note?

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2 Comments

Filed under Adaptive reuse, Florida, Tampa

2 responses to “Tampa’s Cigar Factories Part 2

  1. mlmintampa

    To replicate the Wilson Miller building in Ybor, there has been talk of luring big office projects to an old West Tampa cigar factory. Raymond James was being recruited, but they may go to Pasco, since the only thing not vetoed by our jobs governor was cash for new roads at an office complex in Wesley Chapel.

  2. Pingback: Three-Year Anniversary | Gator Preservationist

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