Milwaukee, Clock Shadow’s existence
has changed that.
The creamery opened a window (
literally) to the process of cheesemaking by
designing the factory so that it is behind
glass and not a wall. Now, anyone walking by on the street can stop and gaze in
as little mountains of cheese curds and
cheddar make their way down the line.
“When I was growing up in Milwaukee,
my father worked at the newspaper plant and
there were these large windows where you
could watch the paper go down the presses.
I was mesmerized,” Wills says of the deci-
sion to create the factory space with open
windows. “So when I designed the building
I wanted to make it so people walking by
could see everything that’s going on.”
It’s one of many innovative approaches
the creamy took when setting up the facto-
ry, which it got to do from the ground up.
The space Clock Shadow sits on has a
long and storied history. The plot was once
home to A.O. Corporation, which manufactured baby carriages and bike parts in
the mid-19th century. By 1895, A.O. was
the country’s biggest manufacturer of bike
parts. Several automakers, including the
Ford Motor Company, took notice and
hired A.O. to make car frames. A.O. eventually got so big it had to relocate — leaving a building that was occupied by several
tenants, at least one of whom contributed
major pollution to the site.
By the time Wills came along, all that
was left was an empty field that had
been labeled a “Brownfield site” by the
Environmental Protection Agency — a
designation that indicates the presence of
hazardous substances or contaminants.
Wills says the neighborhood was also
one of the poorest in the state, with a
fairly high crime rate and high unemployment. Empty industrial buildings surrounded the plot.
But a young developer in the city, Juli
Kaufmann, had a vision for the site. After
getting Wills on board with the mission of
a designing a green building of that would
be a home to local businesses and help
revitalize the neighborhood, the idea for
an urban cheese factory was born.
In 2012, Clock Shadow opened in the
bottom level of the newly constructed
Fix Building, which transformed the
Workers at Clock Shadow Creamery have brought cheese-making
operations — typically reserved for farm country — into the heart of
Milwaukee. (Clock Shadow photo)