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Past Home Of Cheese Factory Cleared For Parking

Having purchased this Central Building two separate times, the First Baptist Church demolished the old cheese factory to make room for additional parking. – Photo by Jack Gurner

By Jack Gurner

Eighty years ago a group of business and professional men of Water Valley appropriated  $28,000 toward building and equipping a Kraft Cheese plant to be located on Central Street. The Kraft Company was to repay this amount when the volume of  daily receipts of milk equaled 45,000 pounds for a period of 60 days.

It never did, according to an article in a 1933 issue of the North Mississippi Herald. So, the Kraft-Phenix Cheese Co. paid the local association $12,500 for their  interests and took over operation on May 24, 1933.

During the five years leading up to the take-over, several drives were made to boost the receipts up to the required amount. However, owing to lack of proper cooperation of the farmers, the drives were not successful, the Herald reported.

Apparently the Kraft-Phenix people had better luck with the farmers as the company remained in operation until after World War II. An article in the 1937 Watermelon  Carnival program reported that more than 500 farmers from the vicinity were receiving  monthly checks for a total annual income of about $50,000. That averages to about $100 per  farmer per year.

After the cheese plant closed, the building was used as a laundry for a number of years. It is currently owned by First Baptist Church who have bought it twice, according to church officials. They first owned it in the 1980s, sold it to the city and  then bought it back a year or so ago.

The building is being demolished for parking and church  expansion.

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