Hillsboro, WI. – The Wisconsin Historical Society placed the Hillsboro Condensed Milk Company (Hillsboro, Vernon County) on the State Register of Historic Places in February of 2021.
Dairy production is widespread in Wisconsin, and the state has played a significant role in the proliferation of numerous dairy products. In Hillsboro, one of those was condensed milk. Condensed milk gained popularity as a fresh milk-substitute during the American Civil War when safely providing fresh milk to troops was difficult or impossible. To make condensed milk, fresh milk is clarified, heated, and mixed with sugar to act as a preservative. Condensing milk as a way of preserving it was especially welcome in Wisconsin where fresh milk could be produced faster than it could be sold.
The Valecia Condensed Milk Company of the Janesville area at one time had five factories and built the subject factory to further expand their business. Unfortunately, financial difficulties closed the factory before it could begin operations. Area farmers had already increased their milk production in anticipation of the new factory, so in response, a group of Hillsboro businessmen bought the building and started their own condensing operation in 1915: the Hillsboro Condensed Milk Company. The successful venture soon became one of Hillsboro’s largest employers. After 50 years in operation, the factory closed due to market changes. The building has since been rehabilitated and now stands as an excellent example of industrial architecture and a tangible link to Hillsboro’s industrial history.
The State Register is Wisconsin’s official list of state properties determined to be significant to Wisconsin’s heritage. The State Historic Preservation Office at the Wisconsin Historical Society administers both the State Register and National Register in Wisconsin.
To learn more about the State and National Register programs in Wisconsin, visit www.wisconsinhistory.org.