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Salvador’s Ice Cream – in a Giant Milk Can! Ice Cream and Summer Foods in North Dartmouth, MA

Posted on: July 19, 2014



This is an excerpt of the piece I wrote for the National Trust for Historic Preservation on the programmatic dairy architecture that dots the southcoast of Massachusetts. You can read the entire piece here:

[Retro Roadmap] Milk Bottle Buildings of Southeastern Massachusetts – PreservationNation.org

Salvador's Ice Cream Milk Can Padanarum MA Dartmouth MA

Salvador’s first season was in spring 1936. Their most popular flavors were vanilla, butter pecan, and frozen pudding.

Well off the beaten path in South Dartmouth in a quiet area dotted with summer homes is an unusually shaped building known as Salvador’s Ice Cream. You can’t miss the 30-foot-tall structure — affectionately called “The Can” by many locals — because of its distinctive size and fact that it is shaped like an old-fashioned milk can. Of course, it comes with giant handles on either side of the curved top.

This building was moved from a New Bedford, Mass., amusement park to this rural location in 1935 to be used as an addition to the dairy farm and milk business established by the Salvador family. The family sold their own home-made ice cream from the distinctive structure during the warmer months when the area would be flooded with vacationers returning to their summer homes.

The milk can remained in the Salvador family until 2005 when it was purchased by current owners Len and Beth Gauvin, an electricion and school teacher respectively. Len was looking for something to keep him busy in the summer months when he discovered the can was for sale. He and his family had their work cut out for them as the entire base of the wooden structure was rotted and needed a new foundation.

Salvador's Ice Cream Milk Can Padanarum MA Dartmouth MA

The structure was fully renovated and reopened for business on August 12, 2005.

The entire can was lifted from its original location and moved just a few feet to the side while a new foundation was poured. Once transferred back to the site, the can was fully repaired and given a fresh coat of paint matching the original white and green color scheme. They then added cheery striped awnings and placed a life-sized cow statue atop the building — a replica of the one that originally graced the top but had been knocked down and damaged in the hurricane of 1938.
Open seasonally from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Gauvin family has expanded the offerings to more than just ice cream, including regional treats such as lobster rolls and stuffed quahogs. However, it’s the ice cream that keeps this family tradition returning year after year. Ice cream just tastes better in the shadow of this unique building.

Mod Betty adds  – It was a surprise and a treat to be able to meet with Len and Beth Gauvin when I stopped at “The Can” to take some photos. I had no idea they were going to be there that day- but there they were prepping for the season – Beth was planting flowers in the beds lining the parking lot, and Len was just about to put up the cheery striped awnings (and was bummed that the can would be photo’d without them) Keep up the good work you guys!