Vicente de Ybor

Vicente de Ybor

Friday, November 21, 2014

La Liga Patriotica de Instruccion

 The Patriot League Instruction was located on the corner of 8th Avenue and 14th street, and established in 1889.  Classes were conducted by Don Jose Guadalupe Rivero at night, after the Cuban emigres had completed a day of labor in the tobacco factories.  Ybor City's development was begun in 1885 by cigar manufacturer Vincente Martinez-Ybor.  By the end of 1886, over 3,000 workers had arrived in what would become known as the "Cigar Capital of the World" (Ybor City Historical Page, Baldor Academy Alumni).
 Ybor City hosted many of the mutual aid societies and social clubs that were established to enable those marginalized by race, ethnicity, and immigrant status to successfully cope with and adapt to the often inhospitable environment of the larger US society, while maintaining a connection with their identity and culture.  On the corner of East 7th Avenue and 14th Avenue, for example, is located the "cradle of Cuban liberty" which was a tobacco stripping house converted to a social center in 1886 Ybor City historical marker text).
The Sociedad La Union Marti-Maceo was formed when local Florida segregation forced Afro-Cubans from El Club Nacional Cubana, an organization of black and white Cubans in the independence movement (Ybor City History, Baldor Academy).

Cuba secured independence from Spain in 1898, and the La Union continued to provide mutual aid benefits to members until the 1930s when large numbers of Afro-Cubans fled the south along with African Americans.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


 Hav-A-Tampa cigars originated in the USA in 1901.  The "mild-flavored" cigar had a wood-tip, alleged to ensure a smooth and consistent draw.  Tampa Jewels and Tampa Nuggets were among the brands.
Hav-A-Tampa closes its factory ending an era for the local cigar industry and the city it made synonymous with stogies. (Morales, I., & Zink, J. (June 23, 2009). Tampa Bay Times)
Tampa was known as "Cigar City" since its early years of becoming home to the cigar-rolling industry, fueled by the move of cigar factories from Key West to Tampa with the lure of cheaper land, resulting in the founding of Ybor City community.

The company cited rising taxes (used to fund health care for those in poverty) as one of the reasons for the closure of the factory in Tampa.  Cigars, like other forms of tobacco, were glamorized in the early 1900s by both the movie industry and in print advertisements.  Many a child carried a cigar box to school to hold crayons, and cigar boxes were dressed up with crepe paper or silver foil to become Valentine mailboxes.  We vied for the cigar bands to sport as rings--the graphics seen as intricate art for those of us without real jewelry.

It is ironic in many ways that the phenomenon of funding health care by taxes on a product that causes major health issues continues to disproportionately affect the poor and impoverished.  The rising cost of tobacco use, fueled partly by increased taxes, claims a disproportionate amount of the income of the poor, and those who are more likely to lack health care in the first place.  Any number of studies have provided evidence that children and minorities (most likely to be poor) are targeted by the tobacco industry.

It is also ironic that although we can truthfully claim ignorance up until at least 1963 and the first surgeon general's report that linked tobacco use with lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and other ill health factors, that is no longer the case.  While tobacco use is declining as a whole, it continues to represent a danger to the health and well-being of all of us.

Bob Newhart probably said it best in his comedic routine in which he has a "conversation" with Sir Walter Raleigh about the discovery of tobacco (roughly paraphrased from my memory of the 1970s):
Now let me see if I understand this--you take the leaf of this 'to-bac-co', roll it up in paper, set it on fire, and inhale the smoke?  Seems like you could get the same effect sitting in front of the fireplace with the damper closed.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Don Vicente de Ybor Inn

 Don Vicente de Ybor was the founder of Ybor City, after he left Cuba.  In 1895, following building his cigar manufacturing center across the street, he built what was his home for many years.  Vincente moved his cigar factory to Tampa from Key West, primarily because of cheaper land.  Other cigar factories followed.
 With the cigar factories came the immigrants, mostly from Cuba, but also from Spain, Italy, and Romania.  At some point much later, Ybor's home was a hospital and clinic, which operated until 1980.  It became a boutique hotel in 1998, and this year, sold for 2.2 million.
 According to the Tampa Bay Examiner, the hotel is one of Tampa's most haunted places, with a variety of guests and employees reporting sitings of spirits, including a nurse in the basement.  Stories are told of the "mad doctor" who experimented on patients and then burned their bodies in the incinerators of the basement.  Allegedly, room 305 is the "most haunted" with the most frequent sitings.
 Interesting, the hotel is a frequently used venue for weddings and other celebrations.  It has 16 rooms, Persian carpet, chandeliers, canopy beds, and a marble staircase.  Apparently, brides descending that marble staircase is the big drawing card.
 You can also book a room if you are visiting historic Ybor City, with a warning that during the weekends, the neighborhood can be rowdy.
The area was a hotbed for patriots during the Cuban Revolution and the Spanish American war, primarily after one Jose Marti made a rousing speech on the steps of the cigar factory across the street from Vincente de Ybor's home.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

El Pasaje

 "The Passage" was constructed from 1886 to 1888 by Vicente Martinez Ybor, and in 1895 became the Cherokee Club--a gathering spot for the elite.  Architects M. Leo Elliot and B. C. Bonfoey are credited with designing the Italian Renaissance Men's Club in 1917 (AIA Tampa Bay).  Elliot was born in 1886 (Social Security Death Index), the year construction started on the building, so it seems safe to say that perhaps Elliot and Bonfoey did some type of remodeling or renovation in 1917.  El Pasaje originally served as the offices for Ybor's companies.  Ybor developed the concept for Ybor City after cigar factories moved to Tampa from Key West.
 Located on the corner of Avenida Republica de Cuba and 9th Avenue, the imposing building is across the street from Ybor City's original cigar factory, and was the second brick building to be constructed in Ybor City.
 Over the years, several restaurants, a hotel, and other businesses have been located in the building.  Among the Cherokee Club's famous guests were Teddy Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, and Winston Churchill.
Original wrought iron balconies on the upper floor and iron finials on the roofline were removed sometime after the 1950s according to the NRHP nomination form for Ybor City Historic District (no author, no date).

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Macon's Art Deco Guns and Ammo Store

The c. 1880 building that occupies the corner of S. Jefferson and E. Pulaski retains its original rectangular two-story form, and the front of the brick building has been stuccoed (Barrow, 2001, NRHP nomination form).  Simple Art Deco details have been applied to the front, including the green marble stepped surround on the entrance door, glass block windows on the upper floor, and a floriated pattern on the metal grill above the doorway.

The c. 1880 building to the right was originally retail space on the first floor, with paired display windows under three-light transoms.  The second entrance leads to the upper floor which served as a lodge meeting space (Barrow).  Brick dentil molding is featured over the arched windows, which has now been enclosed.  The building does not appear to be in use, and needs some sprucing up!

Visible to the rear of the building is the former Carter's Funeral Home, c. 1930.  Much of that building has been altered, but it still retains the plain brick pilasters and recessed tablet above the second floor windows.
The prominent corner location and style of the building lead me to believe this was originally a bank.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The corner of S. Jefferson and Pulaski in Macon

c. 1880 building at 300 S. Jefferson Street
Okay, really, ya'll down in Macon--and you know who you are--this should just not be this hard.  And, to spread the blame around, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and National Register of Historic Places, and Google maps, and City of Macon business search, and--oh, wait, this could take a long time.

I never know if it is a blessing or a curse that I am like a dog with a bone when I want to know something and cannot find it.  You see, the problem is that there is no consistency in the world.  Yes, that's right--No consistency!  Every logical rule you think might help you figure out blocks, street addresses, N, S, E, and W--all goes out the window depending on who laid out the town.  I do have to admit that I am far more skilled at it than I used to be, what with discovering how to use MDAH/HRI, newspaper archives for which I pay a pretty penny (that means one of the shiny new ones I guess) but has proved essential in my New Deal research, and has also boosted my hobby related to architectural history.  The ability to connect historical addresses and locations with current Google maps (yeah, another MDAH/HRI assist) has been especially helpful as well.
In desperation, I started looking at the zoom for clues, and that is when I discovered the actual address of the building--which is nothing close to what Google maps says, the address of the building next door says, ad infinitum.  With the correct address, though, it is a short leap to the rest of the story.

Which, really is not much of a story, even after all of this lead in.  I just love buildings with a canted entrance, or corner entrance, or beveled entrance, or whatever anyone elects to call an entrance on the angle.  I love the variation of the posts, pillars, columns, poles that support that corner overhang, whether brick, stone, iron, wood, round, square, or whatever.

This corner building is described in the NRHP nomination form by E. Pauline Barrow (2001):
A painted brick one-story commercial building with a decorative parapet of bricks laid on end vertically forming a denticulated cornice over an indented tablet.  Replacement corner double-leaf entrance doors (NE) having single glass transoms and sidelights, all set in metal and an iron column supporting the beveled corner.  Another engaged iron column separates two round-arched recessed windows, also set in metal.  Lunette windows pierce the north elevation, as well as a second side entrance to a separate business.
While I have no clue as to what they sell or display in that building that I would venture to guess was once a bank or drug store, if you find yourself in Macon, drive by, better yet, stop and look.  And, note to self, next time I am in a city, just make a note of the address while I am standing right there next to it.

Old DeKalb High School

 Sometimes, I have one of those "what were they thinking?" moments.  Like the day I finally located the 1936 DeKalb high school building--no easy thing to do.  R. C. Springer, who was the architect for the 1940 WPA Lynville school just up the road also designed the DeKalb school (Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory).  If it was not annoying enough a covered arcade was erected in front of the building (and, hey, I can understand the need to protect children from the rain while walking between buildings), did they really have to locate two giant dumpsters right in front of the door?

So, here is this lovely venerable building, quite possibly a New Deal construction, with garbage bins blocking its face.  Rodney Dangerfield is not the only one who gets no respect.

The newspaper archives have so far revealed nothing about the school's construction.  The gymnasium for DeKalb was constructed by the National Youth Administration in 1938, and the vocational building, also built in 1936, give clues that the WPA might have been involved in construction. 
One might not realize the rear of the building as belonging to the school, unless you look at the perspective from google aerial maps.  It clearly shows the two rear wings of the one-story school, that jut out over the hill behind the school.