The city of Plymouth is once again the owner of a historic downtown building that has been completely renovated to offer shoppers a unique taste of the region's dairy culture. The former H.C. Laack building at 133 E. Mill St. is now known to visitors as the Cheese Counter and Dairy Heritage Center.
The 3,600-square-foot building had been vacant for several years after being abandoned by a private developer until it was sold to the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp. in 2016. It now houses a dairy museum and restaurant.
Through an agreement with the SCEDC and the city of Plymouth, the building was transferred to the SCEDC Foundation to qualify for historic tax credits and other incentives that helped finance the redevelopment of the vacant building.
The five-year agreement required SCEDC to remain the building’s owner while the Plymouth Redevelopment Authority led restoration efforts.
The former H.C. Laack building, built in 1875, is listed on both the state and national registers of historic places. It was originally a general merchandise and hardware store, according to Wisconsin Historical Society records.
There are two apartment units on the upper floor of the building, which were also renovated. The lower floor was a completely vacant space, which was converted into the Cheese Counter and Dairy Heritage Center. The SCEDC Foundation secured $300,000 in state tax credits to support the renovation.
The project also received a $300,000 grant from USDA Rural Development, a $100,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., and close to $2 million in donations facilitated by the Lakeshore Community Foundation and the Plymouth Redevelopment Authority.
The Cheese Counter and Dairy Heritage Center officially began operating in the building in 2017.
"The Partnership between SCEDC and the City of Plymouth/RDA provided a unique opportunity to fund The Plymouth Cheese Counter and provide a historical reminder of our heritage as the Cheese Capital of The World,” said Don Pohlman, mayor of Plymouth.
The city officially voted to buy back the building from the SCEDC Foundation for $1 last September. The transaction closed in December 2022.
“The Plymouth RDA has been thrilled to be aligned with the SCEDC in the development of the Cheese Counter in our downtown,” said Lee Gentine, chair of Plymouth’s RDA and a former Sargento executive. “This project wouldn’t have been possible without this partnership. We look forward to other possible ventures. The historic partnership has proved to be an asset to the City of Plymouth and Sheboygan County."
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