The Dairy first opened in 1954 as the milk processing and bottling center for the Round Hill Dairy Farm, owned by the Curtis Family. Dairy farmers came from nearby counties to have their milk processed and delivered. The Curtis family also ran an ice cream parlor in the front of the building, serving homemade ice cream they made in the back.
Round Hill Dairy Farm continued to be a major milk processing plant in Knox County until the 1960’s when the first major grocery store moved to Mt. Vernon bringing cheap, storable, paper-boxed milk to town. Milk processing stopped in 1963, when Round Hill Dairy was bought out by Medigold Distributors, a national dairy corporation. The Curtis family still delivered milk until 1976, when they decided to move out of the dairy business and started Curtis Trucking.
“What killed your Mom and Pop dairies was bigger dairies coming in with paper cartons, cheaper production, and the fact that milk lasts as long as it does. There was also a stop of home delivery of the milk, people started to go to the big grocery stores, and the Mom and Pop dairies just couldn’t compete.”
-John Curtis, Owner of Curtis Trucking
Over the next twenty years, the building was rented by numerous companies including LG Dairy, a driving school, and individuals who tried and failed to restart the ice cream business. In the early 2000’s, a friend of the Curtis family offered to rent the building and return The Dairy to its original roots, a family owned, locally oriented ice cream parlor.
The sons and daughters of those who got their milk delivered by Round Hill Dairy are the same people who frequent The Dairy today. This special connection to The Dairy, along with the great ice cream and kind employees, is the reason why Knox County residents come back time and time again.
Photo: Top picture shows the LG Dairy in the early 1980’s. The bottom picture shows The Dairy in 2016. The LG Dairy used the building for a couple of years in the late 1970’s and into the early 80’s but were soon driven out of the business by larger dairy companies. Top Photo Courtesy of Lou and Sue McFadden; Bottom Photo Courtesy of Molly Eder
Written by Johnathan Cooper (’19) and Molly Eder (’20)