The Dairy is located in mid park at about 65th street. The building was designed by Calvert Vaux and completed in 1871. It is a rather schizophrenic structure in a style called Victorian Gothic. The northern half (facing a transverse road) is a granite structure with a gambrel roof that resembles a country church. The southern half is a wooden loggia (roofed open gallery) with geometric gingerbread borders. It was designed to catch cool summer breezes from The Pond to the south, while retaining sunlight in the winter. The Dairy had a nice view of The Pond until 1950 when the northern arm of the pond was converted to Wollman Rink.
The Dairy was initially was used as a restaurant, selling ice cream, sandwiches, pastry, ale, porter and coffee. (Rosenzweig, pp 317). It later assumed its original purpose as a distribution center for fresh milk. A cholera epidemic and a series of scandals placed the city's milk supply under suspicion and this served as place families could trust for healthful dairy products when visiting the park.
The building was restored in the 1990s and converted into a visitor center and gift shop.