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Samuel I. Davis
West Tampa

 
Samuel I. Davis (1862-1916) was a native New Yorker who learned the cigar trade in his hometwon.  In 1886 at the age of 24 after being a salesman for the very succesfull firm Juluis Ellinger Co., Samuel founded the Samuel I. Davis Co. in New York to produce El Sidelo, Gen. Good, Charle Carroll, Segundo and Harvester brands.  By 1909 it had factories in New York City, Western New York and Tampa.

Until September 1904, Samuel I. Davis Co. occuped the old Joyce Cigar Co. building on Rock Rd. between Ybor City and Tampa.  In September 1904 Samuel I. Davis Co. built and became the first occupant of a new facility later known as the  Balbin Bros.  factory building on Howard Ave. and Nassau St.  In 1906 Samuel's brother Fred Davis became a partner with Samuel and the firm's name was changed to Davis Bros. Cigar Co.  That same year they acquired a factory building at Howard Ave. and State St. previously ocupied by the Carlos Fernandez Co. and operated the two factories employing approximately 600 workers.

In 1909 the Davis brothers began the construction of a third factory building on the corner of Howard Ave. and Cypress St., upon nearing completion in May 1910 it burned down and only the tower remained, construction was eventually fiished in 1911.  On October 2, 1910 the Balbin Bros. factory building  suffered major damage due to arson, as a result, Davis Brothers Cigar & Co. moved its 400 workers here after its completion in 1911 and sold the Balbin Bros. building.
 
The Davis Bros. Cigar Co. operated here until 1919 when the Consolidated Cigar Co. acquired Davis. Bros. and its subsidiary El Sidelo Cigar Co. Consolidated Cigar Co. remained at this location until 1924 when Consolidated went out of business.  Gradia, Annis & Co. moved here in 1929 when it relocated its manufacturing operation from New York City, they remained here until 1933 when they moved to the Berriman factory building in Ybor City.   A. Santaella & Co.  briefly operated a branch here from 1930-1931.  Sunstate Sportswear Manufacturing occupied the building from 1954 into the 1980s.
 
This 49,329 square foot cigar factory was built in 1905 according to Hillsborough County records aparently in error.  It was one of only a few factory buildings that had a tower although unlike this factory, the other towers were clock towers.  The Samuel I. Davis & Co. cigar factory building is a similar design to the  Y. Pendas & Alvarez  cigar factory located nearby, but without the clock atop its brick water tower.  This building is currently abandoned.