Historic Farmstead Cheese Plant to be restored in Wisconsin

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by Wisconsin Cheese

A century-old wooden farmstead cheese plant that sat undiscovered and unused for nearly 100 years will once again be making cheese by year’s end.

Arnold Imobersteg, 92, a retired dairy farmer who lives on a 400-acre farm just across the Wisconsin border in Orangeville, Illinois, is donating his farm’s cheese plant to the National Historic Cheesemaking Center in Monroe. The plant has sat unused on the Imobersteg Farmstead since 1917 and contains all of the original cheesemaking equipment, including a copper kettle, press table, original intake wheel and wooden press bars.

A ground-breaking ceremony took place on June 24 at 4 p.m. at the National Historic Cheesemaking Center, 2108 Sixth Avenue in Monroe, Wisconsin, to celebrate the moving of the cheese factory and all of its contents to the center’s grounds. The public is invited.

“This is a one-of-a-kind find,” said Mary Ann Hanna, Executive Director at the National Historic Cheesemaking Center. “We are absolutely ecstatic that we’ll now be able to demonstrate how cheese was made in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We’ve never had the equipment or facility to do that before.”

The Imobersteg farmstead cheese factory, a 20-by-20 foot wooden shed with a brick chimney, has a long and storied history, some of it unknown even to the current owner.

Originally from Switzerland, Imobersteg’s parents made cheese, and later hired a cheesemaker to make Brick, Swiss and Limburger cheese twice a day from the milk of the family’s 40 dairy cows, all milked by hand. The cheese was then shipped to Monroe by horse and wagon and sold to a number of cheese buyers, including Badger Cheese Company.

“They made a lot of cheese by hand with no electricity and no running water.” Imobersteg said. “I’m glad it’s going to be restored and I’m sure looking forward to watching cheese be made in it again.”

Following the June 24 groundbreaking at the National Historic Cheesemaking Center, the factory will be moved to the Center’s grounds. All of the original equipment is being restored by a blacksmith, brick-layer and contractor, and the facility should be ready for viewing by Green County Cheese Days on September 17-19. A group of local cheesemakers has shown interest in making cheese in the facility later this year, with the goal of an annual cheesemaking day set every year.

Congratulations to Elle, Cassie and Jeffrey for winning a wine & cheese picnic set during last week’s June Dairy Month giveaway!

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