There is a restoration movement in our country. Individuals and families are pulling together to restore pieces of history, spurring growth and revitalization in small towns. Ty and Jenny Lewis are doing their part for this movement in Shiro, a small town on Highway 30 between College Station and Huntsville that is rich in history unknown to many.
Any driver who has made the trek down Highway 30 has driven past the large old cotton gin that sat in front of Shiro Feed and Fertilizer. At one point the gin served as a movie store and even a haunted house.
“W.S Davis built the first cotton gin there in Shiro in 1915, and it was replaced with gin No. 2 in 1930,” Ty said. “It ginned cotton up until around 1965. We know of one gentleman who is still alive that used to sell his cotton to the gin.”
In March 2016 the Lewises purchased Shiro Feed and Fertilizer. When faced with the decision of tearing down or repurposing the old gin, there was no doubt in the couple’s minds that they wanted to see this piece of history repurposed into a feed mill for their business.
“I have got to travel across America as far as the Great Lakes and over to Georgia rounding up equipment to build this feed mill,” Ty said. “Most everything was bought second hand from row crop farmers going out of business. No one other than us helped install or refurbish anything in this mill. Ourselves and employees who work there did most all of the work from the ground up and continue to do so.”
They continue to see growth in the area.
“We didn’t realize how much potential the area had until we built the feed mill in the cotton gin. People come from as far as Nacogdoches to get the cattle feed,” Ty said. “We offer several different handmade cattle feeds as well as goat feeds. We also offer granule and liquid fertilizer. Hopefully we will be doing custom fertilizer blends this spring with our own blender. And of course our service always comes with a smile and a handshake.”
The newest addition to the Shiro Feed and Fertilizer family is a large storefront that’s still in progress. “We are currently building a new larger store beside the gin and hope to be in it by March,” Ty said. “We will then have so much more to offer.”
Shiro Feed and Fertilizer is a family business, and Ty and Jenny Lewis cherish the time spent with their three sons.
“The boys love helping make and bag feed,” Ty said. “They even help run the cash register from time to time. Their favorite thing to do is sell lemonade during the summer.”
Restoring the gin as a feed mill has been a great learning opportunity for their children. “Teaching our kids about running a business and how to interact with people is important to us,” Ty said. “Showing them the importance of raising animals and how to care for them is a big part of why we do this.”
To learn more about Shiro Feed and Fertilizer, search for them on Facebook or stop by the storefront at 9900 Franklow Ave. in Shiro.
MidSouth Electric Co-op invites you to look around your community for ways to repurpose older buildings. Perhaps ask yourself if certain historical homes could be restored or remodeled to work for a modern family. The possibilities are potentially endless.
We look forward to hearing about restoration efforts being made across our service territory and encourage you, our members, to continue shopping local.