The Fairmont Creamery

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City/Town: Lawton
Location Class: IndustrialCommercial
Year Built: 1929
Year Abandoned: 1970's
Status: Restored
Photojournalist: Cody CooperJustin Tyler Moore

It is still one of the most captivating buildings in Lawton, a multistory fortress of red brick occupying a solid city block, its signature narrow smokestack rising above almost everything else in the downtown industrial zone.

But if it’s still imposing enough to demand attention, in its heyday the Fairmont Creamery at 411 SE Larrance Avenue was not only recognizable, it was a center of attention, an absolute beehive that employed well over 100 people who turned the milk of thousands of dairy cows into ice cream, cottage cheese and other products consumed by generations of Lawtonians.

The creamery that stands today was built in 1929, with expansions added in 1979 and 1985, but the Fairmont Co. actually came to the still budding town of Lawton in 1905, according to Travis Warner, who took over care of the creamery four years ago with his brother, Derek Pever.

“Talking to old-timers and to my father, in 1905 it was originally right by the railroad tracks and people would come in and set up next to it to sell fruits and vegetables from carts, and it was like a market here every weekend,” Warner said.

Though most of the equipment that made the creamery what it was has now been removed, standing inside the 70,000-square-foot building, one can still get a sense of its rich history.

“At that time, it was actually the first state-of-the-art factory in Lawton,” Warner said, pointing out stout concrete columns rising from the building’s foundation to support the tremendous weight of the second-story concrete floor, which is 28 inches thick in places.

Warner has never seen accountings of how much milk flowed through the creamery or of how much ice cream or other dairy products shipped out on a day-to-day basis. He points out though, where a 10,000-gallon tank sat on the first floor for storing milk. On the second floor were another 10,000-gallon milk storage tank and two more that held 5,000 gallons each.

Nearby, the original freight elevator still stands in its shaft.

“When we were doing the (interior) demolition we got it working and used it,” he said.

In an area on the second floor where creamery employees once gathered before work, the doors of old wooden lockers stand open, as if left that way for a final inspection.

Down below, in the basement, Warner points to a dark space beneath some stairs where the building’s original blueprints were found.

“My dad was really excited about finding them,” he said.

There were offices in the basement, and a massive boiler that produced steam used by the factory.

On this recent day in mid-August, it was nothing if not hot inside the cavernous building, but when the Fairmont was a busy business concern, it was kept very cold inside.

“There were just miles and miles and miles of piping that went through here to keep it chilled.” Warner said. He points out a hole in an interior wall where a conveyor once swept ice cream being made through a “chill room” kept beyond chilly and, indeed, well below freezing.

“There was a conveyor that went through and by the time the ice cream passed through in 48 feet it was frozen solid,” he said.

The Fairmont Co. pulled out of Lawton in the 1970s. The creamery was then operated for a time by Farm Fresh, but has stood vacant for the past several years. Warner’s father, Joe Warner, bought it in 1995 and it remains under ownership of Fairmont Rentals, which he established.

 

Lawton Constitution, The (OK) – Sunday, August 31, 2008

Author: STEVE METZER ; STAFF WRITER

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[…] Dasia graduates this year and is also a champion cheerleader. After we spent a couple hours at the Fairmont Creamery, I decided I was hooked. I’m TOTALLY a senior photographer. Why couldn’t I have looked this […]

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A Gal
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A Gal

Did this factory also operate a store that sold ice cream in part of it? Our aunt used to bring us to a big factory place and bought us ice cream in what I remember to be a cavernous place, they had tables and a long counter from which we ordered. Is this the same place?

A Gal
Guest
A Gal

It was in the early 1970's, 1973 to 1978

Sheila
Guest
Sheila

As I was shopping with my grandsons today for their choice of ice cream flavor, I was reminded of the best ice cream I ever ate. It was my grandfather's favorite…Lemon Custard from Fairmont Creamery. He lived in southwestern Nebraska. When visiting there were the only times I had it. I'd love to taste some of that again. It didn't "sound" good to me at first but it was wonderful. I've never found anything close to it since.

Chuck Webber
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Chuck Webber

Everyone, reading most the comments invokes a feeling in me of how much the Fairmont Creamery has meant and means to Lawtonians. Rest assured that John and Gayle have great vision for this property and a group of us, The Fairmont District Experience, Inc., believes this to be the beginning of something wonderful for the Lawton community. While John and Gayle work diligently on the Creamery, the group is focused towards getting people comfortable with the area. We have a weekly organic farmers market at the Fairmont Marketplace and on a reoccurring basis events for the entire family. The building… Read more »

Jimmy Cann Jr
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Jimmy Cann Jr

John and Gayle Rutherford , the new owners have done a tremendous amount of work to the original building. Thanks to their efforts, one of Lawton's oldest historical buildings will not be lost or forgotten. Lawtonians should be very grateful for those two and the work and money they have poured into that building to save a piece of Lawton's history. The great "all knowing" city of lawton had the creamery on the demolition list when John and his wife bought the building. They have been battling the city council for quite some time to save the building from destruction.… Read more »

AbandonedOK
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walmartsting
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walmartsting

To: Mr. Jimmy Cann Jr, I'm trying to reach you about a roof job that was done that was done by All Pro Roofing or Roofing By All Pro or "Superior Roofing by All Pro" or what ever name they are switching to. Please contact me at ceciliabeauchamp at yahoo.com Thank you.

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