Norman’s Kill Farm Dairy

Normans Kill Dairy ad.png
Many of us who grew up in the Capital District in the 1950s and 1960s remember our class field trips to the Norman’s Kill Dairy, right down on the Normans Kill just on the edge of Albany. (The dairy favored the possessive apostrophe; the creek does not.) The school bus had to stop and we walked across the Whipple truss bridge that crossed the kill; the bus was too heavy. And so, knowing where the farm was, I was surprised to run across this ad in a mid-1930s city directory, with delightful mascot Normie saying something that could have stood a little punctuation, and to see an oddly familiar and yet out-of-place address: 120 S. Swan Street. That’s not on the edge of town, that’s right in the middle of it, just a block or two from where I work. Well, then, it turns out that Norman’s Kill Farm Dairy actually had its processing operations right downtown. Where is 120 South Swan? Today you’d recognize it as the mysterious Empire State Plaza turnaround, a legacy of the South Mall Arterial’s planned connection to a highway under Washington Park, which I wrote about last year at All Over Albany.

Having a dairy in the middle of a highway wasn’t really going to work, so as it did with hundreds of other buildings that were in the way of the South Mall (eventually re-monikered as the Empire State Plaza), the State used its powers of eminent domain to take the dairy’s property. The State tried to get the property on the cheap, claiming the plant was obsolete and demolition was imminent. A court did not agree, and granted the dairy $1.16 million for the property in 1966, which was quite a chunk of change. Whether the dairy ever really replaced the sizeable and apparently very profitable operations it had on Swan Street, I don’t know. If you take a look at eBay, you will find Norman’s Kill Farm Dairy milk bottles from time to time.

The Norman for whom the Normans Kill is named, Albert Andriessen Bradt (“Norman” refers to his place of origin, Norway, rather than a name), is my 10th great grandfather.

Comments

  1. paulalemire

    I was raised by my great-aunt and her father’s store was at the corner of Hudson and Swan. There’s a photo of the store linked at one of my older blog posts.
    http://albanynydailyphoto.blogspot.com/2009/08/family-history.html
    That building actually survived the destruction of the neighborhood for the South Mall, though other buildings he owned a few blocks away were caught up in the legal hassle of eminent domain and torn down.
    But one thing I especially remember from her stories about the old store was that sometimes my great-aunt and some of her siblings (there were seven children in the family) would go across the street to see the horses that were kept at the Normanskill Dairy. This would have been in the early to mid-1930s.
    I may still have an old Normanskill Dairy crate in my garage (if it hasn’t been thrown out by mistake).

    1. Laura Tuohy

      I am a Connecticut resident and I came across an old tin Norman’s Kill Dairy sign around 1995. I discovered it at a flea market in Mansfield Ct. and had to have it. It has been hanging in my kitchen ever since and I have often wondered about the history behind it. I am happy to have finally been educated!

  2. Carl

    Paula, that’s magnificent. God, I want to shop there. What a great photo to have (and with cases of Dobler Ale out front, no less!) I wish my family had ever taken any pictures of any of my grandfather’s seemingly dozens of failed business enterprises. All I have are old receipts and city directories to tell me what went on.

  3. bearilybear1

    The dairy was founded by my late husband’s grandfather. When the So. Swan Street Building was sold, the dairy built a new facility on Wolf Rd (if I remember the street name correctly). The business was later sold to Crowley Foods. Haven’t been back to Albany for a while so I don’t know if it’s still there.

  4. reeseworden

    My father was a milkman for Norman’skill Farms Dairy and worked out of the Swan St. plant. They kept the horses on the second floor and after putting on the bridle and tack, would have to walk the horses downstairs to where the wagons were. I remember my dad having to climb the Swan St. hill, south of the plant and the horse zig-zagged up the hill with a full load of milk crates. The horse also knew the route and stopped at all the proper houses. That processing plant bottled the milk and cream and also made ice cream. One of my dad’s stops was the Governor’s Mansion when Thomas Dewey was there.

  5. paulineb21

    My father who I had never known worked for the Normanskill Dairy in the late 40’s and early 50’s. His name was Leonard Miller. If anyone knows anyone who knew him I would love to hear from them at paulineb21@gmail.com
    Thanks.

  6. Liz Cino

    Last weekend my husband and I were at the worlds largest garage sale near Lake George, NY (Warrensburg) and my favorite buy is a print of an old photo. The photographer was John McElroy and it is a beautiful picture of a milkman stepping out of a Norman’s Kill Farm Dairy Co. truck. The name on his jacket is “Eddie” and he has a milk carrier in his hand with six bottles of milk and what looks like a container of chips or pretzels. The milk crates are stacked in the truck behind him. I collect milk bottles and dairy items and am thrilled to have this from an Albany, NY dairy farm. I will continue my search for milk bottles and old crates and look for Norman’s Kill Dairy items in the upstate area.

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