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Corina Cigar Co.
Palmetto Beach

 
José Escalante (1851-1923) was a Spanish immigrant from Oviedo, Asturias who went to Cuba in 1866 to avoid military service.  He quickly learned the cigar industry and moved to Key West where he continued to learn the trade.  In 1872 he moved to New Orleans where he worked for Simon Hernsheim & Co.  After a few years there, together with his two brothers Francisco and Manuel Escalante, he established José Escalante & Co. at the corner of Magazine & Poeyfarre Streets where he manufactured the Corina brand cigars.  In 1906 after 33 years in New Orleans he decided to move to Tampa and established his cigar factory at this location where the Corina brand cigars were also produced by the Cuban American Cigar Manufacturing Co.

This 3-story 38,405 square foot cigar factory at 202 S 22nd Street was built in 1895 for V. Guerra, Diaz & Co.owned by Frank R. Diaz and Spanish immigrant from Rennes, Asturias Vicente Guerra (1850-1909) who arrived in Tampa in 1894.  V. Guerra, Diaz & Co. occupied the building until 1899 when the Cuban American Cigar Manufacturing Co. acquired the facilities.  Until his death on January, 1909, Vicente Guerra was Vicepresident and General Manager of the Cuban American Cigar Manufacturing Co. of which Herman Myers, later Mayor of Savannah, GA was principal shareholder.  Upon his death, his interests were handled by Joseph Guerra (brother?). 

In 1906 the Cuban American Cigar Manufacturing Co. ceded the facilities to José Escalante & Co. who moved to continue making the Corina cigars it had been manufacturing in New Orleans.  The Corina brand was the first machine made cigar to have a pre-formed hole in the cap for which they were assigned a US Patent for the design.  José Escalante & Co. was also one of the biggest users of the Boite Nature  wooden cigar boxes.  José Escalante & Co. would remain here for fifty years before selling to the General Cigar Company in 1956 who was subsequently acquired by the Tampa Cigar Company in 1958 and remained here until 1962.
 
Looking at the front of the building, in white letters, you can make out the words "Corina Factory" and Clear Havana Cigars".  The name  "Corina" is also at the top center on the parapet of the building.  On the side of the building the words Guerra, Diaz & Co. can still be read.
 
The building has been owned by J. Kent Larson since 1989 where he operated his business Larson’s Deluxe Plastic Card Co. Inc. and rented space to other tenants, one of whch was the advertising agency Dunn & Co.  In March, 2015 Corina Holdings represented by its principal owner Troy Dunn, acquired the buiding for $1.3 million and while it still rents out part of the building, reportedly plans to be its sole tenant in the near future.