AIR Decay :: The Milk Can
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Photos from the HABS/HAER collection, Library of Congress
The Milk Can


During the construction of Rt 99 in the late eighties, early nineties, the Milk Can was moved from its previous location to a new location about a mile away. Since its move, the Milk Can never reopened. I grew up near it, and always wished it would reopen as a summer time ice cream stand – imagine going for ice cream and then catching a movie at the Rustic Drive In on the other side of 146. Perfectly retro.

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Prepared by P. Kennedy, RIHPHC, April 30 1983 for National Register Nomination

The Milk Can is significant for its exemplification of aspects of early twentieth century commercial and transportation history. It is a charateristic example of a distinctive and fast-disappearing phase of the first period of automobile-oriented commerce. The Milk Can rep[resents the earliest period of snack food merchandising. Located on a major highway, it was designed to act as a “sign,” and immediate, eye-catching attraction to auto travelers on the Louisquisset Pike. The heyday of such mimetic architecture was in the 1920s and 1930s, and examples are now rare.

The Milk Can's flamboyant form is a good expression of the retailing imperitives of its decade. Unlike the highway-oriented chain fast-food outlets of today, whose proprietors can rely upon nation-wide promotion and advertising to gain the recognition and attention of travelers, the Milk Can’s owner, who built in an era of individual entrepreneurship, required a structure which could demand the motorist’s notice, immediately focus his attention, and act as an advertisement for itself.

Original owner: Charles Plante
Alterations and additions: Canopy 1950, Kitchen ell 1950, and Patio area 1960.

The Louisquisett Pike (Rt 146) was first opened in 1807 and reopened for vehicular traffic in 1928-29. The Milk Can was originally an ice cream stand, built in the shape of a dairyman’s cream can 32 1/2 feet high and 16 feet in diameter.

John Tardif May 7 2019 I grew up playing right next door to where the Milk Can is currently at. My Dad (Roland Tardif) owned the Texaco Gas Station right next door to it.

Ronald Truppa and Lori Caruolo Truppa Mar 31 2018 We had our first date at the Milk Can in 1963 and now we are married for 50 years. We wish it would open as an ice cream and burger business! I have gone to the Milk Can since 1946.

david clark Mar 2 2012 If you are from the area or have been by the milk can and have pictures or memories of it, and want to support the “future” of it... go add the page!!!! share your pictures!!!! watch the progress!!!!

Annette Smith Sweeney Oct 26 2011 I was born in 1959 and remember going to the Milk Can for ice cream. I was very young and don’t remember if we ate anything else there, but remember being excited to go there. My mother, Lucille Smith, remembers and she is now 90. She remembers everything.

richard eastman Jul 11 2011 Hi I am 29 years old and I heard many storys about the milk can on 146. I am a 4th generation house and building mover. It was my father and uncles who moved it back in the 80s.I remember they made a special set of beams to lay the milk can on its side for the move and when i was a kid i always wundered what the weard set of beams were that i always played on were. I think my uncle still has parts of the rigging used to move the can around still.

Donna (DePedro) Tripp I vaguely remember going for ice cream there with my parents and then to the Rustic – it would have been mid to late 60’s – I too was glad to see it moved and then saddened when it didn’t reopen. I was actually surprised to see it still standing there when I was back a few months ago.

Boston Children Museum Hood Milk Can

Marc;Last I checked there were similar milk can ice cream stands in Boston outside either the children’s museum or the museum of science (can’t remember which). There is also one in Raynham MA not far off rt 495 (Correct! To the left is a photo of the Boston Children’s Museum Milk Can.)

Liam My understanding is that once they moved it they then found that the groundwater was contaminated by the gas station next door and were unable to open.

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