Dairyman’s Feed – A Petaluma Landmark Worthy of Respect

I was sadden to hear the news that thieves stole an American flag from Dairyman’s Feed in Petaluma for the third time this year. Now the owners have decided to only fly the flag on September 11th (Mary Callahan, Press Democrat, 9/7/12).

Dairyman’s Feed is without a doubt one of Petaluma’s most important landmarks that provides a visual reminder of the importance agriculture is to this community – both past and present.

SCL Photo No. 4844

With so much attention being given to the flag theft I thought perhaps sharing a bit of history of the building might be welcome.

The Poultry Producers of Central California (PPCC),  an agricultural cooperative association that was established in 1916, began construction of the mill and associated buildings that we know today as Dairyman’s Feed in September of 1937.

According to a Press Democrat article, the mill was “towering majestically to a height of 170 feet” and changing the skyline view of east Petaluma and “eclipsing all other buildings in Sonoma County” by March of 1938.

SCL Photo No. 33482

The fireproof steel and concrete building and its equipment cost approximately $500,000 and had bin storage for 25,000 tons of grain. The 11 story structure was erected under the supervision of John Thompson of Jones-Hettelsater Construction Co. of Kansas City, MO., designers and builders of grain elevators, warehouses and feed plants.

A side note about Jones-Hettelsater Construction is that several of the grain elevators that they built in Garfield County, Oklahoma during the 1920s and 1930s are part of the Enid Terminal Grain Elevators National Register Historic District.

When the PPCC went bankrupt in 1964 many local farmers and ranchers lost their life savings which they had invested in the cooperative. The plant sat vacant until 1982, when Dairyman’s Feed moved their operation from 256 Petaluma Boulevard North (now home to Kodiak Jack’s) to the old PPCC facility.

SCL Photo No. 8963

Dave Soren, a native of Russia who trained as a cabinetmaker and immigrated to Canada in 1912 and to the United States in 1922, established Dairymen’s Feed & Supply Cooperative in 1959.

The Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library has over 50 images showing the PPCC/Dairyman’s Feed complex being constructed as well as a large collection of books related to the history of Petaluma’s dairy and poultry industry including copies of Nulaid News. Nulaid was the brand name of the PPCC eggs.

About Katherine J. Rinehart

Katherine J. Rinehart received a MA in History from Sonoma State University in 1994. For the past 19 years, Ms. Rinehart has worked in various positions within the fields of Cultural Resource Management and Historic Preservation and is currently employed by the Sonoma County Library where she has worked in the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Department since 2002. Katherine is the author of Petaluma: A History in Architecture, a contributor to Celebrating Petaluma published by the Petaluma Sesquicentennial Committee and the Petaluma Visitors Program. Ms. Rinehart is an occasional contributor to the Press Democrat and is proud to be a Petaluma Good Egg.
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