With dairy farms proliferating the Schaumburg Township countryside during its rural period, all of that milk had to have someplace to go. As a result, creameries sprang up in various locations so that the farmers could take their milk to market.
There was the creamery on Barrington Road at Buttermilk Corners, the Nebel creamery at Roselle and Higgins, the Wilkening creamery on Schaumburg Road across from the Spring Valley property and this one that still stands on Roselle Road, just south of Schaumburg Road.
While it has often been stated in various documents that this business was in place since the 1880s, this appears to be incorrect based on this 1886 insert from an L.M. Snyder map. While there is a wagon shop and a blacksmith on the west side of Roselle Road, south of Schaumburg Road, there is no business shown on the east side.
In addition, the History of Schaumburg, 1850-1900, originally written in German, states that “The village’s central section includes the following business establishments: two hotels and inns, a grocery, Post Office, telephone office, doctor’s office, blacksmith and wagon-maker shops, steam mills, shoemaker, cabinet maker, agents for farm machinery, schools, butchers, etc.” One would suppose that if there was a creamery, it would have been prominently featured.
Lack of a central location in the township is probably a good reason why several local men contacted Charles H. Patten of Palatine about helping them fund a new creamery for the area. Mr. Patten was today’s version of a venture capitalist who owned other creameries and was experienced in the business.
From a March 27, 1908 article in the Cook County Herald, it is mentioned that the Schaumburg Creamery Company organized March 17, 1908 and elected the following board of five directors and officers: Chas. H. Patten, president; Fred Pfingsten, secretary; H.E. Quindel, treasurer; Wm. Hattendorf and Louis Schoenbeck.
Capital money in the amount of $10,000 was raised and work immediately began under the guidance of Henry Schoppe, with the hope that it would be completed by June 1. Excavation was done for a lower level on the main building that would be equipped with machinery to process the milk and cream, as well as a complete refrigerating plant.
The main building was measured out at 54×32 ft and designed to be two stories tall. It would be constructed of “brick and superstructure wood.” The adjacent power plant would be 48×28 ft.
Because of the gambrel roof and its large three-story form, the building very much resembles a barn. As can be seen in this Allan Gray painting that is in the library, you get a good idea of the two entrances the building had. The earthen ramp in the front allowed horses to pull farm wagons full of milk cans directly into the building, as well as wagons of the finished products of cheese and butter out of the building. An entrance on the lower level was also big enough to allow for wagons to enter and exit the building.
One of the building’s unique features that still exists to this day is the tall chimney. This is original to the building and was obviously there for the cheese and butter making processes.
Plans for operation of the creamery were stated in a March 13, 1908 Herald article: “The milk may be sterilized, cooled and shipped to Chicago, either in cans or bottles; or the cream alone shipped and [the] balance is made into byproducts. A new system may be installed, whereby the skim milk is made into a powder like flour, shipped in barrels and used in large bakeries.”
The creamery did, indeed, open in June just as Mr. Patten predicted and continued for the next 20 years or so. It was a big employer for the area considering labor was required for hauling products to the train station in Roselle, crafting the cheese and butter, stoking the power plant with coal and, even making and storing ice in the winter.
It was managed for 22 years by Charles H. Meyers, per his DuPage County Register obituary of April 13, 1934. Some of the local men listed in the paper over the years who were employed there were Charles Gruber, Arthur Quindel, Fred Botterman, Frank Kappa, R.O. Gerschefske, Fred Nebel and Frank Winkelhake.
The creamery shut down sometime after its annual meeting in 1925 and then reopened again in 1927. After 1928 there is no mention of the creamery operating in Schaumburg Township in the Daily Herald. One has to suppose that, by this time, thanks to motorized travel, it was easier for the farmers to ship their milk directly to Chicago or Elgin.
In fact, in her book, Schaumburg of My Ancestors, Lavonne Presley states, “As the quality of trucks improved, there was a milk stand at the northeast corner of Nerge and Meacham Roads in the late 1920s. The milk cans were placed on the wooden stand and the empty cans which had been returned the previous day were taken back to the farm.” Milk stands like this were likely sprinkled around the township for groups of farmers. With easier transportation, local creameries became an unnecessary function for area farmers who were always looking for the best prices.
It is supposed the building then sat vacant for years, eventually falling into disrepair. This indistinct photo from 1960 is evidence of the state of neglect.
Then, around 1965 or 1966, Robert Ross bought the property and, according to an article in the Daily Herald from January 5, 1967, Mayor Robert Atcher stated, “The award of the year should be given to Robert Ross for renovating a blot on the landscape, the old cheese factory building.” The article further stated that “Ross has been appointed key man for the development of an Old Town and art shops on the west side of Roselle Road.”
This photo from Marion Gerschefske Ravagnie was developed in 1970 and shows the back of the building after Mr. Ross had renovated and restored the building. It is also a great view of the chimney before the addition took place.
One of the first tenants in 1969 was Schaumburg Township, who initially rented one room for their Clerk’s office. By February 27 1970, as reported in a story in the Daily Herald, the Township moved most of their offices there. They remained in The Buttery until late 1978 when they moved into the former Blackhawk School that they bought and renovated.
Mr. Ross, in the meantime, added a lower, one story addition onto the east side of the Buttery in early 1970. He, apparently, was also the one who named his new office building The Buttery. There is no mention in the Daily Herald of that name before his purchase of the building but it’s stuck to this day.
Later, in an entry in the Village’s booklet, Schaumburg: A Walking Tour of Historic and Architectural Landmarks that was published in 1998, it is stated that “the building has undergone recent major modifications including an addition to the east.” This was an addition to the addition and was probably done sometime between 1995 and 1997.
On December 9, 1997 the Schaumburg village board officially made The Buttery at 105 S. Roselle Road a village historic landmark. As stated in their walking tour booklet, “The original building is evident and the reuse as office space has ensured its longterm economic viability.”
Thanks to Mr. Ross and his rejuvenation of a longstanding Schaumburg icon, one of the four known creameries of Schaumburg Township still stands today.
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library