TAMPA — Tampa is still known as “Cigar City” for a reason.
In the 1920s, there were more than 200 cigar factories, mostly in Ybor City and West Tampa, making Tampa the global hub of the industry.
Due to a mix of urban renewal, interstate construction and fires, only 25 of the factories remain and just one is still used as a cigar factory. But today, only two are vacant, a dramatic improvement.
Here is an update on each of the factories. (An asterisk denotes that the building is protected from demolition or modernization of the exterior either because it is a locally designated historic landmark or is located in a historic district. Some factories were home to multiple cigar companies, so its official name is the one best known.)
Address: 3102 N. Habana Ave.
Modern use: Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association headquarters
In the know: Its general contractor, Levick & Mobley, built at least five other cigar factories.
Arturo Fuente *
Address: 1310 N. 22nd St.
Modern use: Arturo Fuente Cigar Co.’s corporate headquarters
Built: Unclear. City records say it was constructed in 1903, but the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s website says 1895.
In the know: It was originally called The Charles the Great Cigar Factory after the company that built it. Fuente purchased it in the 1960s.
Balbin Bros. *
Address: 1202 N. Howard Ave.
Modern use: The factory is being converted into a boutique hotel.
In the know: It was originally the home to Samuel I. Davis Cigar Company, but they moved to a larger facility in 1910.
Berriman Morgan *
Address: 1403 N. Howard Ave.
Modern use: Saint Leo University satellite campus
In the know: Around 1,000 workers rolled more than 11 million cigars a year there through the 1960s.
Bustillo Brothers *
Address: 2111 N. Albany Ave
Modern use: The building is being converted into student housing called Cigar Lofts at Albany.
In the know: During recent construction, they discovered cigar factory artifacts. Those include a platform on which a reader, known as a lector, stood and recited literature to entertain the cigar workers, and tables on which the stogies were rolled.
Looking to explore the Tampa Bay area?
Subscribe to our free One Day in Tampa Bay newsletter series
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
Corral Wodiska *
Address: 1302 N. 19th St.
Modern use: Office space used by multiple companies
In the know: It was among the places Fidel Castro recruited supporters for the Cuban Revolution during his trip to Tampa in 1955.
F. Lozano & Sons *
Address: 1410 N. 21st St.
Modern use: Central Florida Lions Eye Bank headquarters
In the know: Cuban cigar workers called it El Sama, which is slang for “chicken head soup.” It’s unclear why it had that nickname.
Garcia Y Vega
Modern use: Co-working office space
Address: 3104 N. Armenia Ave.
In the know: An inscription on the exterior says “1882,” which was the year the Garcia Y Vega Cigar Company was founded in New York before later coming to Tampa.
Address: 2311 N. Angel Oliva Sr. St.
Modern use: U-Haul facility
In the know: The first Gonzalez-Fisher Cigar Factory was lost in a fire that in March 1908 destroyed five factories and more than 250 homes, all in Ybor.
J. Seidenberg *
Address: 2205 N. 20th St.
Modern use: Office for TransferWise, a London-based financial tech firm
In the know: It is Tampa’s second-oldest cigar factory.
Address: 202 S. 22nd St.
Modern use: Office space rented by multiple companies
In the know: La Corina Cigar Co. only remained in the factory for four years. Then, Cuban-American Manufacturing Co. moved in.
Address: 2802 N. Howard Ave.
Modern use: Office space used by multiple companies
Year built: Unclear. Hillsborough Property Appraiser’s website says 1898, city records say 1905, and a Tampa Tribune article from 1906 reports that Morgan Cigar Co. is building a factory but it is unclear if that is the same one.
In the know: Morgan Cigar Company produced cigars through the 1960s, making it one of West Tampa’s longest running manufacturers to do so.
Oliva Tobacco Building *
Address: 2008 N. 19th St.
Modern use: Casa Oliva apartments
In the know: It is one of two remaining wooden cigar factories, was originally owned by R. Monne & Bro. Cigar Co, and Cuban freedom fighter José Martí supposedly spoke there in the 1890s. The Oliva Tobacco Co. later used it as a warehouse.
Pancho Arrango *
Address: 2115 N. 15th St.
Modern use: Part of Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor campus
In the know: Pancho Arrango, who developed the factory, was known as the “Napoleon of the Tobacco Industry” but it’s unclear why.
Address: 2808 N. 16th St.
Modern use: It’s being converted into an apartment building.
Built: Unclear. News archives have conflicting dates of 1914, 1915 and 1917.
In the know: When built, it was half the size that it is today. Over the next half-century, two additions were constructed.
Regensberg & Sons *
Address: 2701 N. 16th St.
Modern use: J.C. Newman Cigar Co. operates Tampa’s last operational cigar factory out of it.
In the know: It is also known as El Reloj, which is Spanish for clock. It was once believed the factory’s clocktower could grant wishes.
Address: 402 S. 22nd St.
Modern purpose: Headquarters for the Pilgrim Permocoat construction company.
Built: It’s unclear other than the late 1800s
In the know: It is one of two remaining wooden cigar factories.
Samuel I. Davis
Address: 900 N. Howard Ave.
Modern use: Vacant. A for-sale sign was on the property last year but is now gone. There are no county records of it being sold since then and a message left with the owner was not returned.
In the know: Construction crews estimated that the factory’s brickwork was an hour from completion when a fire gutted the tower. The damage was repaired, and the factory opened later that year.
San Martin & Leon
Address: 2202 N. Howard Ave.,
Modern use: Headquarters for MaintenX International, a facility maintenance and repair company
In the know: The West Tampa factory was built and first used by Leopald Powell and Co. and then sold to San Martin & Leon in 1913 when they outgrew their previous building in Ybor.
Santaella & Co.
Address: 1906 N. Armenia Ave.
Modern use: The building is currently used as artists’ lofts, but plans have been submitted for approval to the city to add a restaurant and banquet hall.
In the know: Historic preservationists were angered when the owners began painting the factory white in 2019. Tampa City Council then discussed but decided against intervening to stop the exterior from being changed. Today, the paint job remained unfinished.
Tierra del Lago *
Address: 1908 N. 36th Street
Modern use: It is being converted into an event space.
In the know: W.H. Streeter used $85 in gambling winnings to establish the Tierra del Lago Cigar Co.
Address: 200 N. Edison Ave.
Modern use: University of Tampa’s Facilities Management Department
In the know: Thompson Cigar Co. moved to Tampa in 1920 after a hurricane damaged its factory in Key West.
Address: 2708 N. 18th St.
Modern use: Vacant
In the know: Arturo Fuente Sr. once lived there and used it as a factory for his Arturo Fuente Cigar Co. His great-granddaughter, Liana Fuente, now owns it.
V.M. Ybor *
Address: 1911 N. 13th St.
Modern use: Church of Scientology facility
In the know: Founded by Ybor City’s namesake Vicente Martinez Ybor, it was Tampa’s first brick cigar factory.
Y. Pendes y Alvarez
Address: 2301 N. Albany Ave.
Modern Use: It is being converted into a winery.
In the know: Built for $7,000 from a design by architect Fred J. James, who later created El Centro Español of West Tampa, it is one of two remaining factories with a clock tower.
Information came from city and county reports plus news archives.