Yesterday, my mom, my son and I took a drive near Brenham, Texas to visit the oldest still operational Cotton Gin in the Country – The Burton Cotton Gin. We arrived with plenty of time to spare before the next tour, so I took off on foot to explore Greater Metropolitan Burton, Texas which has a population of about 300 people.
While walking around the town, I came across a shoe repair shop that was locked up, but seemed to have some older equipment inside. Upon further inspection, I found a sign that said that the Shoe Repair Shop had closed when the owner died in 1976. The shop, which was opened in 1933, serviced the city of Burton and the surrounding area. The cobbler did everything from shoe repair to re-stitching baseballs.
The tools in the workshop were where the cobbler had left them in 1976 the last time he had locked up his shop before he died; there was even customer’s shoes on the racks behind the counter waiting to be repaired.
I walked back over to the museum and I started to chat up the Museum Curator about the shoe shop nearby and he gave me a little history on it. Apparently, the cobbler had first worked out of the wooden shack next to the Cotton Gin prior to building a freestanding building for his shop.
I told the museum curator that I would love to get inside and take some pictures if he might be able to put me in contact with the person who could let me in.
I told him that I love to shoot aged objects and finding a place that had been unmolested for almost 40 years was not something that I run across everyday. I handed him my card and explained that I would be willing to drive back from Houston anytime to shoot the Shoe Repair Shop if I was granted permission to enter.
The museum curator smiled and then let me know that he had the key to the place and would be more than willing to allow me a couple of minutes to shoot the inside of the Shoe Repair Shop.
After our tour, the curator of the museum walked me over to the Shoe Repair Shop and let me in. It was amazing, not a thing had been moved since the Cobbler died in 1976. All of his tools were laid out across his workbench as if he was out to lunch. I made quick work of shooting what I could inside the shop. There were cans of shoe polish, heel and sole enamel as well as leather conditioner that had ben sitting there for all o these years.
I hope that the people of Burton, Texas recognize what a treasure they have there and decide to come together to preserve that shop. It was truly amazing to see and I would like to think that it will still be there for future generations to see as well.