Thursday, January 15, 2009
Selma's Cigar History
One of Selma's oldest industries, cigar manufacturing, closed recently, but a new display at the Old Depot Museum recalls its significance in the life of our town.
Cigar making was introduced to Selma in 1941 by local businessman Art Lewis. The factory was located in the historic old cotton mill off Cahaba Road where a whole neighborhood had built up around it. By the mid-1950s, Bayuk Cigar Company of Philadelphia purchased the plant, and in 1982, it was sold to Hav-A-Tampa of Tampa, Fla. Most recently, it was known as Phillies Cigar Co., and in 1995, production was about 500 million cigars with an annual payroll of $4.5 million. That year, more than 300 people worked three shifts that operated six days a week.
Several instruments used in cigar manufacturing, such as blunt dies, as well as wrappers, boxes and much more, are on exhibit.