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V. Martinez Ybor & Co.
Ybor City

 
This factory building was designed by C. E, Parcell for the founder of Ybor City  Vicente Martinez Ybor , to house the operations of V. Martinez Ybor & Co.  Construction was completed in 1886 although Hillsborough County records show it was built in 1895, probably referring to the date of construction of the office extension south of the original structure.  At the time of its inauguration, the V. Martinez Ybor & Co. factory building was the largest building in the world and is to this day the oldest remaining cigar factory building in Tampa.  It was supposed to be the first cigar factory in Tampa but Martinez Ybor could not beat Serafin Sanchez & Ignacio Haya in becoming the first production cigar factory in town by two months; Sanchez & Haya Cigar Co. opened for business on April 1, 1886 while V. Matinez Ybor & Co. could not open until June 13 of the same year. 
 
The factory is located at the corner of Republica de Cuba Street and 9th Avenue, fronting Republica de Cuba Street.  Originally, it consisted only of the three story main nave.  In 1892 a one-story packing room addition was attached to the North of the original structure.  When Julius Ellinger decided to move from West Tampa to Ybor City, the packing room area was leased to the Ellinger Co., after Ellinger's death on May 17, 1902, the Ellinger Co. merged with then renamed Ybor-Manrara Co. becoming part of The Havana-American Co .  In 1895 a small one-story brick office extension was attached to the left of the main nave.  In 1902 an additional structure was added on the corner of 13th Street and 8th Avenue knowwn as the Stemmery building because it was there the stems would be separated from the tobacco leaves.  This addition was leased from ca. 1915 to 1932 to the  M. Stachelberg & Co. cigar factory building.  The last building in the complex was the 1903 brick warehouse building on the corner of 13th Street and 9th Avenue.  The three building complex totaled 77,622 square feet plus a common courtyard and occupied practically the whole city block.
 
In 1852 Vicente Martinez Ybor (1818-1896), a Spanish immigrant from Valencia who had gone to Cuba in 1832, began making El Principe de Gales brand cigar in Havana. This dissertation title Don Vicente Martinez Ybor, the man and his empire: development of the clear Havana industry in Cuba and Florida in the nineteenth century presents a detailed history of his life.  El Principe de Gales brand was a knock-off of the Prince Of Wales brand of cigars which were made by another factory during the same time.  Martinez Ybor also made a knock-off of the popular Figaro brand dubbed A Lo Figaro.  In 1868 the devastating Ten Year War for Independence began in Cuba, so in 1869 Martinez Ybor moves El Principe de Gales factory to Key West to escape the war and evade arrest for aiding Cuban rebels during their uprising against Spain. In 1887 Martinez Ybor moved El Principe De Gales to Tampa, in part due to fire damage to his factory and to labor unrest between Spanish and Cuban factory workers in Key West.
 
The V. Martinez Ybor & Co. factory produced the following brands: La Sagasta, Rosa de Junio, Flor de Madrid, Mi Perla, Bianca, La Perla, Castenera, Abundancia, El Triunfo, La Sublima, Panderetta, Amorosa, Messina, Flor de Roby, La Selegna, La Palladina, La Mulysa, La Tenitas, Monona, Estancia, Cetina, Urbino, Anavah, El Abrazo, Madrileña, Telitah, Los Imortalles, Tasmania, La Chanita and La Genoa.  Its flagship product was of course the Principe de Gales cigar, which quality and acceptance is very well described in this 1906 article in The Theater Magazine .
 
After his death in 1896, principal ownership of V. Martinez Ybor & Co. passed on to Eduardo Manrara, Martinez Ybor longtime friend and business associate who was willed 75% ownership.  V. Martinez Ybor & Co. then changed its name to Ybor-Manrara Co.  In 1899 Ybor-Manrara Co. consolidated with Seidenberg & Co. and other cigar companies to form The Havana-American Co.  In 1901 The Havana-American Cigar Co. was acquired by the American Cigar Co. a branch of American Tobacco Co. also known as The Trust, headed by James Buchanan Duke .  On June 12, 1901 V. Martinez Ybor Sons Co. was incorporated under the laws of Florida.  According to this March 7, 1902  Tobacco publication articel , V. Martinez Ybor Sons Co. was established at a factory on 16th Street and 15th Avenue. 

In 1954 Hav-A-Tampa purchased the V. Martinez Ybor Cigar Factory and manufactured cigars there until 1961, then used it as a warehouse until 1972.  They sold the building to Trend Publications in 1972.  On July 31, 1980 Ybor Squate LTD acquired ownership of the factory building and made it into a small shopping mall. on May 12, 2010, the Church of Scientology bought the factory building and currently uses it as administrative space and as a place of assembly.  Besides the Church, the complex, also known as Ybor Square, houses the offices of Creative Loafing and the Spaghetti Warehouse, both located in the the old warehouse building.
 
While taking pictures of the outside, a security guard from the Church of Scientology approached and was kind enough to allow me to take pictures of the interior and some of the old equipment still on the premises, their generosity is greatly appreciated. The Principe de Gales cigar box label printing palce made available by Robert Cerkleski from his private collection.
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