In 1946, Henry L. Curtis and Alice Curtis (pictured above) were about to start a business that would have a lasting impact on Mount Vernon, Ohio.
Henry’s father, Walter Curtis, sold milk from their family farm, Round Hill Farm. All milk was produced by their Jersey cows and delivered to homes around Mount Vernon by horse and buggy. In addition to running Round Hill Farm, Walter also oversaw The Curtis Hotel while Henry was away during World War II. After Walter passed, Henry came home from the war with dreams to expand the dairy alongside Alice.
In 1948, the dream of expanding the family dairy farm, became a reality. Henry and Alice started to pasteurize and homogenize milk in their small dairy processing building.
1950 was the start of providing a great fresh dairy product to a larger number of people. Before then, all home deliveries were done by horse and buggy in small quantities. To keep up with demand, a new delivery truck was purchased. This new delivery truck was loaded with bottled milk, had ice dumped all over it, and then delivered to homes all over Mount Vernon. This new truck allowed for more homes to be serviced per truck load and for temperatures to be held at a more consistent rate.
After outgrowing the small dairy building located on Round Hill Farm, blueprints were drawn up for a new full-service dairy store to be built. 1954 was the year that helped shape the history of Mount Vernon forever. Brick by brick, the original Round Hill Dairy was slowly introduced into the community. With this expansion, Round Hill Dairy could now manufacture: milk, cheese, cottage cheese, buttermilk, chocolate milk, and ice cream mix. All milk was bottled in glass bottles made from Lamb Glass in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
Though milk deliveries made up the majority of the business, ice cream would have an everlasting impact on the community that was unforeseen to the Curtis family. Because of Round Hill Dairy, relationships were formed, traditions were born, and communities were brought together.
Once the store opened its doors in 1954, Round Hill Dairy started to move through large volumes of milk. Due to this shift, in 1956 Henry L. Curtis decided to sell all Jersey cows and started purchasing bulk milk from local dairy farmers in Knox County. The milk was transported in 10-gallon metal cans from the farm to the dairy plant daily. Once the metal cans arrived at the plant, they were weighed and tested for butterfat concentration. Based upon those two measurements, the farmers were paid for their fresh product.
In 1960 the entire dairy plant transitioned to all paper milk cartons. After this transition to paper products, glass bottle production ceased, thus making them so meaningful today.
As larger companies came into town and technology kept advancing, in 1969 Henry and Alice decided to stop processing milk. Med-Gold soon became the milk distributer in Mount Vernon, but this would not stop the couple from keeping the front of the store open for ice cream.
Henry and Alice’s love and passion for making ice cream continued until 1980 when the couple decided it was time to retire from their dairy business. Although they stopped making ice cream, they would deliver milk to Kenyon College on Sunday mornings for the entire campus to enjoy.
After the power couple retired in 1980, Lester and Ruby George came into the building in 1984 using Seal-Test milk to produce ice cream. Just as things started to pick up Seal-Test went out to business. Though they had just lost their milk supplier, Lester and Ruby started to use Reiter milk to keep the ice cream store up and running.
Reiter Dairy moved into the building in 1990 with the WIC program which slowly pushed Lester and Ruby out of the store. Though the couple was disappointed they had to leave, their son David George and friend Grey Hood came back in 2000 once Reiter Dairy and the WIC program left the building. David and Grey stayed at the building until 2005 when “The Dairy” was established.
On May 12, 2018 Round Hill Dairy was re-established by Tyler McCann and Johnny Curtis. Their mission was clear yet ambitious, “Ensure Mount Vernon, Ohio had a great place to enjoy a premium ice cream all while following in the footsteps of Henry and Alice Curtis!” Their mission soon became a reality and Round Hill Dairy is known as the best ice cream shop in Knox County.