Going once, going twice…

Published 10:38 am Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You can’t buy butter there anymore or milk. Cream isn’t available either, and if you’re craving a bottle of its once popular orange drink, well you better have a time machine.

The Lansing Co-Operative Creamery was built in 1906 the locals say, at least the few who remember it, and published records from the Lansing Post Office state the business was actually founded with $2,500 in 1894.

The majority of the building still exists today, located on a lonely dirt road at 54082 269th St. just a few miles outside of Austin.

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Its thick brick and tile walls are slightly crumbling in places, and the windows are boarded up. But the structure also sits on a half an acre, and there’s a creek that still runs behind it.

The creamery, which closed in 1952, has been in the possession of Lake City resident Jack Tedrow, a former junior high and middle school band director, since 1965 when he lived in Austin.

For the past 43 years, Tedrow, 82 and a World War II veteran, has used it to store antique car parts and other odds and ends.

“I had an old-car hobby, and I thought of using this as a shop out here, but it never materialized,” Tedrow said. “So it just became storage.”

About a decade ago, Tedrow started to lose his passion for the building and has decided that commuting back and forth from Lake City to do all the upkeep just isn’t worth it.

“I just don’t feel I can take care of it, and I don’t feel I have a real reason to keep it,” he said.

As a result, on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m., Tedrow’s car parts, which nearly fill the inside of the structure, will be auctioned off to the highest bidders, while the old creamery itself, including the land, will be auctioned as well.

“You’re darn tootin,’” said longtime Lansing resident Glen Wollshlager, when asked if he will attend.

“Everyone in Lansing will be at that auction.”

Wollshlager, 71, lives just across the street from the creamery. One of 10 children, his parents moved to Lansing in 1948 when he was 12, and at that time lived two blocks from the business.

He was sent there on occasion to buy goods for his family.

“I just remember being sent over to buy things,” he said. “They used to sell this orange drink by the bottle. They also had milk, butter, cream and buttermilk. My dad worked at Hormel’s and if for some reason we were out of something, I remember walking in there.”

Wollshlager said the creamery is one of the oldest buildings in Lansing and echoes the feelings of some residents who would like to see it restored.

“I’d like to see someone buy it and fix it up,” he said.

Jim Baumgartner, who owns an antique shop in Brownsdale and lives a couple of miles outside of Lansing, agreed.

“How many creameries do you see still standing?” he said. “I would hope someone would do some sort of preservation.”

Tedrow said he can’t recall what he paid for the structure, but did say that he had to pay back taxes on it as the person who owned it before him had defaulted on the loan.

Now he just wants to sell it so he doesn’t have to worry about it anymore.

While the Creamery is up for sale, Tedrow said he won’t accept just any offer.

“If someone wants it for $1,000, I’m not going to do that,” he said. “The land is worth more.”

As for what’s inside, Tedrow’s collection just may be a car collector’s dream.

There are antique wooden wheels, Model-T front axles, the front off of what Tedrow thinks is a 1938 Dodge and several antique gas engines.

“Those will probably draw the most interest,” he said, about the engines.

Tedrow said the items are the result of his years of collecting and attending auctions, similar to the one he’s having Saturday.

He admits he has a few gems in the stash, but also admits there’s some junk too.

“I would call it that, but it might be someone else’s treasure,” he said.

As for the creamery itself, some of the townspeople are holding their breath to see what happens this weekend.

“I just hope the right person buys it” said Judy Slegh, Lansing Postmaster.