Alexander Cruz/ Julia Gardner House

The cigar industry of Key West dates from 1831, when the first cigar factory was established. After the 1868 Cuban War of Independence, Key West’s cigar manufacturing industry boomed, reaching its zenith at the turn of the twentieth century. In 1885, Cuban-born Dolores Fernandez de Cruz purchased this corner lot from Bahamian pioneer William Saunders, who lived here from 1850 to 1880. The Cruz Brothers, Andres, Alexander, and Jose, erected a three-story cigar factory on this site by 1889, providing a business and residence for the family. In 1900, Alexander Cruz bought the factory. He built this 2 1/2 story Neoclassical home on this site circa 1904. The house and lot are significant for their link to the Cuban cigar industry in Key West, which contributed to the island’s economic preeminence at the turn of the century. Julia Gardner, daughter of Richard Henry Albury, one of the island’s most prosperous land owners, purchased the residence in 1918 and owned it for 30 years. Due to its distinctive form, proportion, materials, siting, and architectural details, the Alexander Cruz House contributes to the Key West Historic District.