More than 25 years after closing its doors, thousands of Perry Hall residents still remember the rich and creamy, freshly churned ice cream at Berg's Farm Dairy Store.
Located on the northwest corner of Joppa and Belair Roads, the dairy farm, store and restaurant served the Perry Hall area between 1932 and 1982. In 1986, the last of the farm was demolished and replaced with a Weis Markets grocery store.
In 1932, Joseph and Katherine Berg revamped the family's 63-acre truck farm into a dairy farm with a herd of 100 cows. They soon opened a roadside stand and began selling milk to the larger Perry Hall community.
At first, cows were hand-milked by the Berg children before and after their classes at St. Joseph School in Fullerton. Jugs were filled with raw milk for about 30 cents a gallon. In 1948, pasteurization became law and a major processing plant was constructed. Milk was then sold wholesale to area businesses.
This continued until Joseph Berg died in 1964. The children then sold the cows and began purchasing milk through the Maryland Farm Cooperative.
At the store and restaurant, however, it was business as usual. Over time, the family developed a unique all-natural recipe for its ice cream, using ingredients like fresh cream, sugar, real vanilla and whole frozen strawberries.
Throughout the farm's history, the family stayed heavily involved in the community. They regularly built and sponsored floats in local parades and took school children on tours of the farm.
Katherine Berg died in 1979, at which point her children sold all but 15 acres of family land, providing the property on which the Seven Courts neighborhoods would be built.
By 1982, during one of American history's worst recessions, the dairy farm and store closed its doors for the last time. Store proprietor William Berg said the operation was just barely balancing out its losses.
Shortly before the store's close, Berg told a Baltimore Sun reporter, "We used to know everybody for two miles around, and stayed open seven days a week, from 7 a.m.-11 p.m."
In 1986, Weis Markets built a store on the farm's last remaining acres.
Regarding the local impact of the closing, David Marks, in his book, Crossroads, The History of Perry Hall, Maryland, said, "This was a watershed event in Perry Hall's history—the triumph of development over farms, supermarkets over small retailers, and a faster way of life over 'small town' culture."
Historic photos were provided by the Baltimore County Public Library and Loretta Kahl Rutkowski, a historian with the Perry Hall Improvement Association.
The source for information on the building's history was the book, Crossroads, The History of Perry Hall, Maryland, published in 2001 and written by David Marks under the sponsorship of the PHIA. A contemporary news article from the Baltimore Sun, "Berg's Dairy Store closes its doors," also served as a reference.