Anatomy of a Cigar Factory Building
  History Collection

...During the big days of the cigar industry in Tampa, a series of factory buildings were constructed in both sides of the Hillsborough River, to provided the proper environment for the hand made cigar manufacturing. Today those buildings are consider a thing of the past and are only part of the landscape in a new city, as silent witnesses of an era. What not many people know is that they were a good example of the building construction at the end of 1800's, and that they were engineering marvels...

The first Tampa Cigar Factories were made of wood, and they were copies of the buildings in Key West. After the first year, and as many manufacturers relocate to Ybor City, the brick building construction flourished. Years later with the development of West Tampa as a competitor to Ybor City, cigar manufacturers were offer no just the opportunity to relocate, but also in many cases a new building. Example of it was the first brick building in West Tampa, of Julius Ellinger & Co. (corner of Garcia & Green Street) in West Tampa. In Ybor City the first brick building was the Vicente Martinez Ybor Cigar Co. (15th St. & 9th Avenue). At this time in Tampa there only 24 buildings left, and not of them are used for cigar manufacturing.

The following is a description of how they were used, and why they were so special.

 

 

Direction makes a difference...

As with most cigar factories, its lenght runs east to west so sunlight and breezes stream into north and south windows all day long.

Windows on the north side are larger than on the south side. Contant air flow is created as breezes move into large openings and out of the building through smaller openings.

Many of this architectural & engeneering details were copies of the buildings in the south east United States.

The following diagram shows how was the inside distributed.

 

A. The water tower - held an average of 25,000 gallons of water for all plumbing needs in the building incluiding the sprinkler system.

B. Cuban coffee (cafetero) - was delivered by Spanish & Cubans coffeemakers to workers in the morning and afternoon. It cost a nickle a cup in the 1930's.

C. Finished cigars - were inspected and selected for uniform color and quality in a well-lit room. The selector was an important position in the factory.

D. Anilladores (banders) - were usually womens; they placed the bands on the cigars. Brand names on bands indicates the quality of the cigars. Newcomers banded the less expensive cigars, while a proven expert was appointed to band and inspect quality cigars brands.

E. The Lector - his job was to read, local and national newpapers, novels, plays or poetry, and gave out sport scores to cigarmakers as they worked. They were paid better than cigarmakers. Most read in Spanish, among the most popular works: "Don Quijote", Les Miserables" and the Count of Monte Cristo." Sometimes the workers voted on what the lector read. The workers hired and paid the lector, and his position was one well respected. The plataform he sat on was called a tribuna.

F. Lunch Break - Workers were known to take their lunch breaks outside sitting on the.surrounding wall. Is consider that from the cigar makers is the creation of the Cuban sandwich, made with roast pork, ham, salami, cheese, pickles and mustard on Cuban bread. Their lunch last around one hour, and was set to start around 11am.

H. Third Level - This was the area in the building to prepare the raw material. The wetted, pliable leaves were taken in this floor to the strippers, mostly women until after the late 1920's. Raw leaf selectors will divided the stripped leaves by color and quality, and then they will be send to the galley, to the premier and general cigar makers.

I. Galley (Second Level) - This was the area of the building in which cigar were manufactured, some factories even used two floors during the busy season. Lectors (reader) normally were situated along the sides of the workers on the second or third floor. When the factory was in full production, they spoke loudly on the third floor so they could be heard on the floors below. While they read, there was absolute silence in the factory. Many galleys in some factories were big enough to provided work area for up to 1,000 cigar makers at a time.

J. Floor Level (First Level) - In this floor the main administrative offices of the firm were located normally on the front section, so as the payroll office, bookeepers, officers, and owners office space. Also in this floor were located the loading dock, quality control, anilladoras (banders) department, packing & shipping. Was laso used for storage and repairs of equipment.

K. Basement - The basement was used to store bales of tobacco. As the bales arrived, they were separated according to quality. The quality of tobacco in each bale was marked on the burlop cover with an identification serial number. When the bales were opened, the tobacco was moistened with water to make the leaves pliable. The leaves were then sended to the third floor to the stripper department to remove the stems, and select them. Special care was given to the wrapper leafs, and they were store separate.

 
 

As we can see this buildings were an important part of the Tampa first industry and a good source of income to the area. The following are some of those buildings...

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Andres Dias Cigar Co.. ..............................................................Morgan Cigar Co.

 

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Corina Cigar Factory ...............................................................Corral & Wodiska Cigar & Co.

 

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V. Martinez - Manrara Cigar Company ....................................A. Santaella & Company Cigar Factory

 

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Berriman - Morgan Cigar Company ..........................................Bustillo Brothers Cigar Company

 

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Perfecto Garcia Cigar Company...................................................Cuesta Rey Cigar Company

 

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Cyrilla Cigar Company .....................................................................Garcia & Vega Cigar Company

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Oliva Monett Cigar Company ................................................................ E. Regensburg Cigar Company

 

 

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Created by: W.Reyes, Ph.D. - Author - Researcher

Source: "Cigar City Architecture and Legacy" - 2015

 

 

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11-16-2015