Gail Borden, pioneer in the food preservative industry, established a milk condensing plant on this site in 1865. His discovery incorporated a process by which water was evaporated from milk, and sugar added as a preservative. This process, patented in 1856, increased the availability and variety in dairy products, allowing the populace a sanitary and nourishing alternative to fresh milk. The stringent procedures he employed inspired high standards, revolutionizing the dairy industry. By 1881, this company was the largest of its kind and a major factor in determining Elgin's reputation as a dairy center. Production ceased in 1918 due to the rising cost of milk. Elgin's Gail Borden Library, located nearby, is named in his honor.