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Some fight to save Bartow historic cigar factory up for demolition

thomas cigar factory.PNG
Posted at 6:43 PM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-09 18:43:24-05

BARTOW, Fla. — Plans are underway to tear down a historic cigar factory in Polk County.

The old Thomson & Co. Cigar Factory in downtown Bartow was built 96 years ago and was once a place where millions of cigars were manufactured and sold.

“It has a great history. It was a major employer back in the day and it’s just a beautiful structure,” said Trish Pfeiffer.

The abandoned building is quickly deteriorating. The old factory, which appears on the National Registry of Historic Places, was listed among the most endangered historic sites.

The Bartow City Commission voted unanimously to demolish it.

“They’re not standing in line to develop it,” said City Commissioner Leo Longworth said, at the Nov. 1 commission meeting.

Commissioners said no developers have committed to restoring the structure.

“I know of nothing they have done to advertise the building to lore a developer or investor,” Pfeiffer said.

Pfeiffer is a former city commissioner and is fighting to have the historic building re-purposed.

“That would benefit the community, like a mercantile, an Armature Works, or joinery. A place that people can come to and be a magnet to attract from out of city,” said Pfeiffer.

Bartow City Manager George Long tells ABC Action News it would be too costly to restore the factory, instead of constructing a new building.

"Four different studies have shown that the renovation of this building could be a catalyst for more growth," Pfeiffer said.