The Penn State Dairy Herd
Cows were present on campus as early as 1865. They were housed in the "Old West" barn complex (where Carnegie building is now located) until 1897.
These structures had been built prior to 1865, and, in addition to the dairy barn, one building was used for classes and a second one served as a creamery. An undated photo of the original barns shows a number of outbuildings, including a horse stable, piggery, butcher shop, laundry, and creamery. One historical reference indicated that the butcher would ring a bell to let the townspeople know when meat was available for sale.
The barns and outbuildings were destroyed by fire in 1897. New barns were built a bit further to the west (south of the current Recreation Hall location). These were utilized until the dairy herd was moved to new barns at the corner of Curtin and Shortlidge in 1915.
A report in the Alumni News (circa 1934) indicated that the West barns were gone and that the herdsman's house was serving as a caddy house for the new golf course.
A second herd was housed in the "Old East" barns, at the site of the present Fenske Lab. These barns were built in 1869 and housed the horses and machinery used on the college farms. Later, Armsby added facilities for dairy cattle, swine, and a creamery in support of his nutrition research program.
The Agricultural Experiment Station headquarters were located north of the East Barn complex and east of Armsby. This building served at one time as housing for the Agricultural Education Department and is currently used by the College of Arts and Architecture.
In November 1891 a fire destroyed most of the "Old East" barns, and new facilities were constructed. Photos before and after 1891 show two different sets of buildings. The new construction was designed to meet Armsby's needs and also to house the horses and machinery.
It operated as a dairy farm with 18 acres set aside for the famous Jordan Fertility Plots. The farm provided the feed for the herds in the East Barn Complex (also known as the Experimental Farm). Sales from the farm were confined to dairy products and livestock and were used to support the research and operational costs.
The buildings housed 43 head of dairy cattle, including six box stalls, plus space for eight horses. When the barns were rebuilt, the original herd was sold because it had become infected with brucellosis.
New animals were purchased including a purebred Guernsey bull. In 1894 a creamery and an ice house were built, making it possible to manufacture butter. A building known as "Hemlock Hall" was erected and used for instructional purposes.
Poultry facilities were also built nearby. The dairy operation at this location probably ceased when the new barns were ready in 1915.
Creamery operations were likely moved to the Patterson Building creamery when it opened in 1904. In later years, these barns housed the horses, a blacksmith shop, and farm machinery. The machine shop was torn down in 1938, and the last of the "Old East" barns was removed around 1940.
Author: Donald L. Ace, Professor of Dairy Science