Historic Atlanta: Atlanta Dairies

Historic Atlanta: Atlanta Dairies

Atlanta has quite a bit of history but the city seems to be intent on destroying it piece by piece.  Or should that be building by building.  Many buildings become rundown and then irrecoverable leading to demolition in due course.  There does not seem to be any local body other than the Atlanta Preservation Society between these buildings and complete destruction and sadly they are lacking in financial substance.

I have made it my mission to see as much of Atlanta’s history as I can before it disappears completely and photograph it for posterity.    This is the first in my series of blogs about this and will be an ongoing quest.

The old loading bays at Atlanta Dairies

Today I was on my way to Oakland Cemetery in Downtown Atlanta when I stumbled upon the Atlanta Dairies on Memorial Drive.  I had heard about this place but never seen it and actually thought that I had missed the boat as I had heard that it was scheduled for demolition or redevelopment.  In fact the trucks and diggers are sitting there on the plot of land waiting to start their work and the whole building has a large fence around it with clear “No trespassing” signs.  Obviously, however much I wanted to explore the inside of the property I had no intention of trespassing!

The first cows arrived in Georgia with James Edward Oglethorpe, the founder of the colony, in the 1700s.  Dairy farming was predominantly a local enterprise with farmers have 5 to 10 cows and people buying their milk locally.  It took some time for the sale of milk to become a major industry and with the introduction of new laws in 1943 requiring all milk to be pasteurised, many local Atlanta dairy farmers decided to band together to form Atlanta Dairies.

Atlanta Dairies is an Art Deco building that started operating in 1945.  Atlanta Dairies provided milk to schools in the area and also did doorstep delivery to many local people.  Many people remember the twinkle of the glass milk jugs being delivered to porches on a daily basis by a milkman.  The location of the Dairies was perfect as Memorial Drive was a bustling thoroughfare into the centre of town and so many saw the iconic building and its familiar milk carton sign on a regular basis.  Sadly with the sale of the local farms to residential developers as the city expanded, the need for the central processing plant declined and the building fell into disuse.  The new developers have already broken ground and it looks as though they will be sympathetically restoring the property and turning it into a mixed use residential and entertainment complex.  I hope that they follow through as this is a piece of history that would be sad to lose.  Read my other blogs in this series if you are interested in history, architecture or travel.