Demolition of the longstanding Colvert Dairy Plant began Tuesday as workers removed the iconic 60-foot sign and prepared to relocate it to the Greater Southwest Historical Museum.
The city of Ardmore decided to demolish the nearly 80-year-old building after plans to renovate the location seemed too costly for the city to take on.
“That building has sat there empty for so long and it was designed as a dairy plant so it’s not really good for anything else,” Mayor Martin Dyer said. “The main thing we needed to do was get it down because it’s more of a liability than anything else.”
Plans to renovate or repurpose the building began in 2013 after the city was awarded a grant to remove the asbestos left over from the building’s construction. City officials initially intended to turn the factory into a community resource center, but plans fell through after the asbestos was removed and the integrity of the building was assessed.
American Demolition and Site Services is in charge of the $187,324 project which includes taking down the Colvert Dairy sign in four parts, transporting the sign to the museum, demolishing the building, and hauling off the rubble, all within a 30-day timeframe.
At its new home the Colvert sign be on display as part of the Tools of Our Land Exhibit at the Greater Southwest Historical Museum.
“It’s a piece of Ardmore history and it’s directly tied to farming and ranching so it will fit in that exhibit well,” Museum Director Wesley Hull said. “None of the neon lights on it work anymore. It would be nice if we could have a fundraising event to get the neon working again.”
Though the building will be gone, the memory of Colvert’s Dairy products run deep in Ardmore. Both Dyer and Hull have fond memories growing up with Colvert’s products.
“I remember my mom and dad sold Colvert’s Dairy products in their country story out in Jimtown,” Hull said. “When I see Colverts Dairy, I can recall being a kid during the early 50’s when they would deliver it to my parents store. I always told the delivery driver that I needed a sample, because I thought you had to sample ice cream before you sold it in your store, and they always gave me one.”
Colvert’s Dairy Plant was a staple in Ardmore, and in its heyday made a variety of milk and ice cream products. According to Dyer, the milkmen used to deliver to the residents of Ardmore on horses before transitioning to cars in later years.
Dyer remembers the Colvert horses being kept in a stable on the southeast corner across from the plant where a truck warehouse now stands.
“I remember when I was a kid, I would get milk from the horse drawn milk wagons every day,” Dyer said.
For now, the city plans to leave the lot empty but hopes to transform the lot into something else in the future.
“The building was not safe and it was impossible to keep secure,” City Manager J.D. Spohn said. “The city will look at options for using the property and determine the best use for it in the near future.”