By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” blog series that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.
Magnolia Market at the Silos on Sixth Street and Webster, Waco, TX., Fred Gildersleeve image, 1920. General Photo Files-Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Company; recent photo of same by G.H., 2020. Note: the Silos Baking Co. building on the corner is one of the original structures.
BRAZOS VALLEY COTTON OIL CO. TO MAGNOLIA MARKET AT THE SILOS IN 2020
Cotton was once Waco’s biggest industry. The rich soil in and around McLennan County, with its Blackland Prairie’s, facilitates the growth of this once abundant local crop. The city had multiple cotton mills, yards, and a railroad system to transport the crop across the country. Cotton by-products such as oil from the seeds were also manufactured in the city. Cottonseed oil is used in industrial and culinary applications (cooking oils) and was in very high demand in the first half of the 20th century. In 1910, to help meet this demand, Waco businessman J.T. Davis started the Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Company–now the present day site Magnolia Market at the Silos.
Vast storage and processing facilities were needed for production and the company occupied the entire block within Webster, Jackson, Sixth, and Seventh streets in Waco. At times, it employed up to 75 workers. In 1949-1950, after several devastating fires and storage mishaps in their buildings, the company built two large 120-foot-tall storage silos. Although ownership changed, B.V.C.O.C. remained in operation into the mid-1960’s. After this time, the facility was used for storage by JPM Feeds. However, It remained unoccupied for years and saw little use until the property was purchased by Waco’s Chip and Joanna Gaines in 2014. It soon became one of Texas’ biggest tourist attractions and Magnolia Market at the Silos still attract thousands of visitors to this site. Through The Texas Collection’s photographic archive, see how this old Waco manufacturing facility evolved and has changed over time into 2020!
Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Company throughout the decades and Magnolia Market at the Silos in 2020. “The company occupied the entire block within Webster, Jackson, Sixth, and Seventh streets in Waco, TX.” General Photo Files: Waco Aerials (cropped), Google Earth 2020.
“Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Firm Sold,” The Waco Tribune-Herald, July 13, 1958.
Burke, Anabel. “Magnolia Market at the Silos”. Waco History. Retrieved 2020-06-11.
“Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Mill | Waco History”. Waco History. Retrieved 2020-06-11.