A West Tampa cigar factory is for sale

The Samuel I. Davis Cigar Factory was built in 1910.
The  Samuel I. Davis Cigar Factory at 900 N Howard Ave. in Tampa is for sale.
The Samuel I. Davis Cigar Factory at 900 N Howard Ave. in Tampa is for sale. [ Google Earth ]
Published May 18, 2022

TAMPA — Construction crews estimated that the Samuel I. Davis Cigar Factory’s brick work was an hour from completion when a fire gutted the tower sitting atop the 50,000-square-foot structure in 1910.

But the damage was repaired, and the three-story factory at 900 N. Howard Ave. was finished later that year.

Today, it is one of the 24 cigar factories that remain from Tampa’s era as cigar capital of the world. There were once more than 200.

The Samuel I. Davis Cigar Factory is now for sale, according to a sign on the property.

The Tampa Bay Times called the number on the sign. The man who answered declined to comment.

According to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s website, JMC Property Investments Inc. has owned the factory since 1994, when it was purchased for $275,000.

The appraiser’s website says the factory’s market value is $1,315,100.

Because the factory is not a local historic landmark, its exterior can be altered, even modernized, but demolition would require Tampa City Council approval.

Related: West Tampa cigar factory with iconic clock tower will be a winery and bar

The Samuel I. Davis Cigar Company moved from New York to Tampa in 1904, according to news archives, and built a factory at 1202 N. Howard Ave. That 34,000-square-foot factory still stands.

Construction of their larger factory three blocks away was announced in 1909. “The building will be a credit to West Tampa,” wrote the Tampa Tribune. Its tower was built to contain the water for the sprinklers in case of a fire.

The fire during construction in May 1910 was attributed to a sheet metal worker leaving a charcoal furnace burning on the roof.

A breeze fanned the flame, which ignited the “paper layer, laid preparatory to the placing of the sheet metal roof,” reported the Tampa Tribune. “The breeze quickly fanned the small blaze into one which wrapped the building.”

The fire damaged “the greater part” of the factory, according to the newspaper, and damages were estimated at $25,000.

Construction crews were back at work a week later.

By 1928, Santaella Cigar Company purchased it as their third Tampa factory.