Butter and cheese, until a few years ago, were in this country what one might call individual products - that is, they were made by farmers, each for himself, on his own premises and in his own way. The preparation of these substances was a daily activity - as much as cooking or feeding the animals. The result was always particular differences in the quality of the butter and the consistency of the cheese, depending on the skill and care of those in charge of the dairy.
The idea of using the dairy product and its manufacture, in order to produce the uniformity and excellence which must be obtained by association, specific method and scientific processes best practicable under the control of the companies, is modern and may be considered to be entirely American. The co-operation of the various companies engaged in this manufacture has resulted in the construction of the American Dairymen's Association building in Centennial Park.
While the structure is well adapted to the purpose designed and is pleasing in appearance, the utility has been studied, so as to secure the desired effect without extravagant expense.
The improved butter and cheese building stands slightly to the east of the Agricultural Hall and overlooks the Belmont Valley. It consists of a main building 110 feet long and 36 feet wide, with two wings of 80 x 32 feet each, extending eastward from the main structure.
A plaza 8 feet wide surrounds three sides of the building. The factory is two storeys high, with attics. The roof is steeply pitched, and a square tower rises in the centre at the intersection of the main building and the wings.
The exterior is painted in light colours and has a pleasing appearance.
The cost of this building was $20,000.
The interior is arranged primarily for display purposes, but also to practically illustrate the process by which the cow's benevolent milky contributions are transformed into creamy composition or more solid and substantial edibles. The most modern processes used in this production are presented here as in a practical working dairy. The raising of cream, the churning of butter, the solidification of cheese and all the processes that accompany the business are displayed with the apparatus - churns, vats, presses, pools and other utensils.
The butter room is a large refrigerator, cool and beautifully adapted to keep the special item of interest firm and sweet.
All these processes are open to the examination of the visitor through a glass partition, which extends along one side of the room and gives him a complete view of the manner in which the work is carried on. For display, the cheese and butter rooms provide samples from over 2000 American dairies and factories, demonstrating the breadth and importance of this interest and showing the superiority of the mode of operation.
The articles on display, being perishable, are constantly changed, the butter and cheese being sold and disposed of and new samples brought in. The design seems to be to make this building something of an exchange, which will benefit the dairy farmers of the country and serve to convince foreigners of the value of the business.
The US butter trade is growing rapidly. In the fiscal year 1874-5, butter exports amounted to 4,150,000 pounds. The value of all the butter in the country was estimated at $420,600,000. The present production of cheese is estimated at about 300,000,000 pounds. American cheese is now a valuable export which is readily sold in Europe.
©Centennial portfolio: a souvenir of the international exhibition at Philadelphia - 1876