The Regensburg Factory

Ybor City's Last Working Cigar Factory

Away from the bustling heart of Centro Ybor, it stands alone, a relic to an oft-forgotten past. Amongst blocks of dilapidated warehouses lies the last living remnant of Ybor’s cigar manufacturing tradition.

The Regensburg Factor, aslo known as “El Reloj” (the Clock), sits on the outskirts of Ybor city. The factory was one of many when it was built in 1910. The Regensburg Cigar Company chose a site outside of the city center for their new modern factory. The center of Ybor City was too densely populated with the factories of the old guard, V.M. Ybor and the Sanchez-Haya Company.

As technology progressed, machines replaced the rows of workers hand rolling cigars. Industrialization slowly killed Ybor’s manufacturing sector. Factories closed as technology and a decreased demand converged, almost snuffing out the industry entirely. The Regensburg Company ceased factory operations at this location in 1952.

In 1954, the J.C. Newman Company breathed new life into the factory, opening its doors after two years of inactivity. The J.C. Newman Company was founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 1895, ten years after and thousands of miles away from the founding of Ybor City. By the mid-twentieth century, J.C. Newman resolved to move operations to Tampa. The move was prompted by a desire to shift production towards premium cigars. Ybor City's reputation for producing high quality cigars, as well as the its proximity to Cuba, made the move a simple choice. More “Cuban” cigars, that is, those rolled with Cuban tobacco, were produced in Tampa during the late fifties and early sixties than in Cuba.

Ybor City began as an enclave where immigrants, primarily from Cuba, Spain, and Italy, could prosper and grow. These immigrants created their own unique cultural niche. Even after the city became a part of Tampa officially, Ybor retained a flavor all its own. Steeped in a tradition of cigar manufacture, Ybor City prospered during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The inescapable axiom, the only constant is change, was not lost on Ybor City.

In many ways, J.C. Newman does not fit the typical profile of an Ybor City manufacturer. They have no Cuban Heritage. They came late to the party. That being said, the Company also embodies the dynamic spirit of Ybor City, possibly more than any other manufacturer.

For all of its ups and downs Ybor City has persevered. Recently many changes have shaped the new face of Ybor City. A truly diverse culture exists and propels Ybor City into the future. Amid this culture stands the Regensburg Factory, home to J.C. Newman, an integral part of both Ybor City’s past and future.