Historic clock towers keep ticking in Tampa

With phones and watches that remind us when to do everything, clocks may seem old-fashioned, but some old Tampa time machines just keep on ticking. 

"We had a crew of four people on the tower and four people down," said Max Boscaino. 

A huge crane hoisted massive new 9-foot clock faces onto the tower of a cigar factory built in 1908. Boscaino and his sons are restoring the old cigar factory on North Albany Avenue in West Tampa.

READ: 100 years of Florida's tobacco growing history rolled into each J.C. Newman premium cigar

They own Winestream, a company that supplies wine to restaurants. By summer, they hope to open the restored factory as a winery and coffee bar. 

The clock they restored is the newest revitalization of an old clock in a town where there seems to be something special about old time machines. 

"Here you have Hortense the clock," said Rodney Kite-Powell, a historian at the Tampa Bay History Center, standing in front of Old City Hall. 

MORE: Tampa honors man who built city's first cigar factory, Ignacio Haya

The name is associated with Hortense Oppenheimer, the daughter of a prominent Tampa physician.

She was active in community projects and grew up to be a well-known socialite, However, her greatest lasting fame may be the name that’s long been associated with the clock atop Old City Hall. 

In a town full of immigrant cigar workers, the clock towers were critical parts of life. 

"In a time before pocket watches or wristwatches were really widespread, people really kind of maintained their daily lives and schedules based on those clock towers," said Kite-Powell. 

Another of Tampa’s famous clocks is at the J.C. Newman Cigar factory in Ybor City. It was built in 1914 and cigar workers called the factory The Clock. 

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The J.C. Newman Company maintains the original clock meticulously, and the clock still strikes on the hour. 

In a city where so much is new, old clocks are the original keepers of Tampa time.