Blue ribbon has always been a phrase that is known as number one, or the best. So how fitting that right at the main intersection in town, enduring for decades, was a business named “Blue Ribbon Feed Store.”
In 1904 Christopher Bergin and Lyndsey P. Thomas built a produce elevator on the southwest corner property of Hudson Street and Main Street. It passed down to Earl Thomas, the second Thomas generation, in 1921 and was referred to as the Thomas Elevator. It was rented to and eventually sold to C.H. Runciman who used it as a colored bean elevator. When the Runciman building on South Broadway was severely damaged in 1963 from a fire, the ‘Thomas Elevator’ location operated around the clock.
In January of 1978 “The Feed Place” advertised opening at the 420 West Main building, on the corner of Hudson and West Main. Bob Pearson managed the store which was owned by Clarksville Elevator. The Feed Store sold packaged animal feed including; food for dogs, rabbits, pigs horses, cat, wild birds, and calves, along with milk replacer, chick starter, and layer mash.
The other animal feed production mill in Lowell was operated by King Milling out of the old Cutter Factory on the east side of the Flat River. King Milling purchased that building in 1927 for its feed plant. It sold feed until May 1978. The old Cutter Factory-King Milling animal feed building was torn down in 1980.
The Feed Place operated until 1983, when it was purchased by Scott and Barbara Carpenter. In an interview, Scott Carpenter pointed out that Blue Ribbon Feed used all natural ingredients in the feeds they manufactured. They would buy locally grown corn, oats, and mix the feed themselves. The feed store closed c. 2012.
In 2016, what was the front retail building of Blue Ribbon Feed became the New Union Brewery. Soon the over 100 year old feed elevator behind the retail building will be torn down, and the ever changing Lowell downtown will take on a new look. Today’s children will tell their children, “I remember when there used to be a large feed mill right at the main intersection of town!”