“The Franklin Co-operative Creamery Association is the climax of an ideal which has for its goal the attainment of the highest degree of perfection in the production and distribution of Milk and its kindred products. In the pursuit of this ideal the Franklin elected to be founded on the Co-operative principle where service to the community it serves is the primary motive.” – from A Trip Through the Franklin Cooperative booklet, circa 1940s
When Seward Co-op purchased the Creamery Building at 2601 E. Franklin Ave in 2022, more than 60 years had passed since the building was owned by the original co-op in the space, the Franklin Cooperative Creamery Association (FCCA). As we look toward the future of what the building can become, we’re also taking a look back at its legacy as home of the FCCA.
The FCCA started in 1919 when Minneapolis creamery workers attempted to unionize alongside milk delivery workers for better pay and a shorter work week. When workers at one city creamery plant went on strike, other creameries locked their workers out, leaving Minneapolis without a viable milk supply. Union members held a meeting in the aftermath and learned of the plight the milk drought was causing children and families. The idea for a cooperative creamery was formed in light of the bleak situation, and the FCCA was born.
Construction on the Franklin plant was completed in early 1921. On March 25, the cooperative–which had elected to become a consumer cooperative, with owner shares in the hands of customers–sent out its first delivery brigade of 18 mostly horse-drawn milk wagons. As its sales soared and demand rose, the Creamery Co-op built a second plant in the northern part of the city, which was operational by 1923.
Over its lifespan, the FCCA produced various products, from chocolate milk to sweet cream butter to cottage cheese and ice cream. At one point, 35,000 families were served daily by the delivery drivers, and, at its height, the cooperative was responsible for 80 percent of the milk supply in the Twin Cities. As a result, there are still relics inside the Creamery Building from the FCCA’s 40 years there, including framed uniforms, milk crates, and other artifacts from the building’s history in the milk business. The FCCA would continue operations out of the building, along with another plant in North Minneapolis, until it filed papers to incorporate in 1960 and shuttered shortly after.
Though the building has seen other businesses come and go through its doors, from a Harley-Davidson dealership to a medical supply company and others, it is once again home to a co-op. Now home to Seward Co-op’s administrative offices, production facilities, and more, the Creamery Building is ready for new possibilities to take root in the former café space. As we reflect on what the building has been and imagine what it can become in the era of Seward Co-op’s ownership, we are eager to work with the community to write the next chapter in the history of the Creamery Building.
Join us on “Walk and Talk” tours of the historic Creamery Co-op building, Saturday, April 26 during the 2023 CSA Fair, and share your thoughts with the Board.