Samuel L. Davis was a native New Yorker who learned the cigar trade at a young age in his hometown. After being a salesman for Juluis Ellinger Co., he founded the Samuel L. Davis Co. in 1886 at the age of 24 to produce El Sidelo, Gen. Good, Charle Carroll, Segundo and Harvester brands.

Samuel L. Davis first occupied the old Joyce Cigar Co. factory building between Ybor City and Tampa before constructing a new facility in 1904, later occupied by Balbin Bros. Cigar Co. In 1906, Samuel partnered with his brother Fred Davis and the firm’s name was changed to Davis Bros. Cigar Co. They acquired a factory building previously owned by Carlos Fernandez Co. located down the street from their first factory, and operated both employing 600 workers.

In 1909, construction began on a third factory building, but upon nearing completion in May 1910, a fire razed the entire building except for the tower. Construction was eventually completed in 1911. Designed by Fred J. James, it is designed similarly to another building he designed, the Y. Penda & Alvarez factory building with the exception of the clock atop its brick tower.

Samuel L. Davis Cigar Factory | Photo © 2011 Bullet,

On October 2, 1910, the Balbin Bros. factory building suffered major damage due to arson, and as a result, Davis Brothers Cigar & Co. moved its 400 workers to the newly built factory after its completion and sold the Balbin Bros. building.

The Davis Bros Cigar Co. operated the factory until 1919 when they were acquired by Consolidated Cigar Co., who would operate the factory under their leadership until 1924 when Consolidated Cigar went out of business. Gradia, Annis & Co. moved into the building in 1929 when they moved their manufacturing operations from New York and remained here until 1933 when they relocated to the Berriman-Morgan factory in Ybor City. A. Santaella & Co. briefly operated a branch here from 1930-1931. This building was occupied by Sunstate Sportswear manufacturing firm from 1954 into the 1980s.

The building is currently vacant with no future plans, though there have been “FOR SALE” signs out front on occasion.

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