There is an old cotton gin located here. On the front side of the building is a sign that reads “Five Points CO-OP Gin, Hardwicke-Etter Cotton Ginning and Cleaning System.” There are abandoned cotton gins, similar to this one, all over Texas and I’m assuming you will find them throughout the southern United States— anywhere cotton is or was a major agricultural commodity. Those signs are a reminder of a different era when Hardwicke-Etter was one of the most common manufacturers of ginning equipment during the 1920s through the 1960s, or so.
But, unlike so many of these rusting, corrugated metal-covered buildings, this particular location holds a secret. It’s only a secret because if I didn’t tell you about it, you wouldn’t know. There are no signs to inform you and the information is hard to come by— you have to dig to find it.
In 1984, the movie “Places in the Heart” was filmed in Ellis County, Texas, in and around Waxahachie, with several scenes shot at this cotton gin. It’s a notable movie that was nominated for 7 Academy Awards — winning 2 — Sally Fields was awarded the Best Actress Award, and the movie received the award for Best Writing.
Sally Fields also won a Golden Globe (Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama) for this movie and Robert Benton received the award for Best Director.
So now you know, and if you should ever find yourself driving down Texas Farm-to-Market 876 and you pass by this old dilapidated structure, you can rest assured that you are a little more informed, because sure enough, it will disappear some day. And when it’s gone, you will know what once was.