2016-03-25 / Community

A Window on the Past

Remembering Dyke Farm in Thornton Heights
By Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo
South Portland Historical Society

Ted Dyke working his farm with horses King and Chub. (Courtesy photo) Ted Dyke working his farm with horses King and Chub. (Courtesy photo) The Dyke farm was located at 625 Westbrook St.; the street was renumbered later on and, although the farm’s address changed to 218 Westbrook St., the farm itself never moved.

According to Robert Dyke, his grandfather Charles Dyke was a market gardener in Riverside in Portland prior to buying the farm here in South Portland in the early 1900s. The house was already on site here on Westbrook Street, but Charles Dyke purchased the barn from the property in Riverside, took it down piece by piece, loaded it onto a horse and wagon, and brought it to the property here and reassembled it.

Early on, Charles Dyke was a big grower, with about 3 acres under glass.

“There was a series of underground pipes the steam went through to keep the plant beds warm. He raised high-value crops such as celery, dandelion greens, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes – just about all of them,” said Robert Dyke.

In the 1920s, Robert’s father, Ernest “Ted” Dyke, purchased the cows, milking equipment and customers of Crosby farm. His milk route covered the Thornton Heights and Pleasantdale neighborhoods, delivering milk door-to-door, as well as wholesaling to local stores.

With 20 to 25 cows, the dairy was considered a large operation in its time. The cows were milked by electric vacuum machines and then carried by hand to the dairy, which was a small building on the property that housed stainless steel bottling equipment and an ice storage refrigerator.

Around 1948, Ted Dyke discontinued his door-to-door delivery and began wholesaling to Lund’s Dairy on Thornton Avenue in Thornton Heights. By 1952, Dyke had installed his first bulk tank and began shipping milk to Hood’s.

The farm was sold in 1956; the farmhouse still remains but the other buildings have all been demolished.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is executive director of South Portland Historical Society.

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