Ybor Square, the new home of the Church of Scientology, stands at the center of Ybor City, Tampa’s most significant historical district.
Originally constructed in 1886 as the city’s first cigar factory, the Square comprises a complex of three buildings around a central courtyard. Then as now, it represents the significant story of the growth of this city.
It all began with Vicente Martinez Ybor, who fled a turbulent Cuba in the 1880s and settled in Tampa to pursue his vision of a land where all people could flourish and prosper. By the dawn of the 20th century, he had built the largest cigar factory in the world.
Owing to Ybor’s spirit of inclusion, hundreds of businesses and tens of thousands of residents shared in his dream. Hispanic, Italian and German cultures all thrived, thanks to social clubs and mutual aid societies, many of which are still in operation. More than a century later, Ybor City remains a vibrant, multicultural, multilingual district.
In 2010, the Church of Scientology acquired Ybor Square and conducted careful restoration and renovation. Among the historical artifacts preserved in the buildings are an original tobacco bale press and the lectern from which the cigar factory’s lector, or reader, read out newspapers and stories for the education and entertainment of workers while they rolled and cut the leaves.
With restoration complete, the Church opened its new home on March 13, 2011, the day of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s centennial birthday.