Looking Back at the Blossom Dairy
The Blossom Dairy is remembered more for its lunch counters, and milkshakes than it is for the home delivery of milk and dairy products. A survey of eBay, Etsy, and other online sellers reveal an assortment of items that have been for sale: glass milk bottles, tiny cream bottles, and even glass baby bottles bearing the Blossom Dairy label. Some people remember taking tours of the diary and receiving an ice cream treat at the tour’s conclusion. But if you ask folks about their memories of the Blossom Dairy, it’s the milkshakes they most often mention.
Shopping in Charleston in its heyday, a stop at the Blossom Dairy on Quarrier Street was often tucked in-between visits to any of the dozens of thriving downtown businesses. The long, gleaming counter boasted twenty red stools, facing the bar where clerks made ice cream magic. Ten large milkshake blenders lined the wall, turning out milkshakes by the hundreds each day. Tables lined the opposite wall where diners could enjoy lunch.
The Blossom Dairy open in 1927 by Samuel Sloman. After several successful years in the dairy business, Sloman decided to open several lunch counters around the Kanawha Valley. The iconic Quarrier street location was opened in 1938. It was only one of a half dozen or so sites and the lone survivor over several decades.
The two-story building is one of Charleston’s finest examples of Art Deco architecture. The outside storefront has a recessed doorway flanked by rounded display windows. Above the door is a transom window. A burgundy and white Vitrolite marquee has Art Deco-styled lettering announcing you have arrived at the ‘Blossom Dairy Co.’ At night, neon lights glowed from the windows. The buildings’ second story is built in International style, with two over two glass panes in horizontal metal windows.
This location was in operation for at least fifteen years, until the founder’s death in 1953. Records are sketchy regarding when the doors first closed and exactly how long they remained shuttered initially. The business was, however, reopened and served food and ice cream confections for many more years.
The sports connection over the years was strong with the Blossom Dairy. The original owner, Samuel Sloman, sponsored a baseball team. While the business was owned by the Gattlieb family around the 50s and 60s, one year, Jerry West had a summer basketball team that Gattlieb and the Blossom Dairy sponsored.
Refusing to go by the wayside, the Blossom Dairy has been rescued several times throughout its lifetime. Besides serving legendary milkshakes, the location has also been home to a fine dining restaurant and an upscale sandwich eatery.
Next month, Looking Back visits
the Kanawha State Forest Historic District.
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Squires’ new book Look Back at Charleston is a compilation of 24 essays and color photos from her column and is available on Amazon. Visit www.mlynne.com.
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