A dairy was a clean room where milk sat undisturbed in shallow pans for about ten hours until the cream rose to the surface. Once the cream had separated, it could be taken to the kitchen to be churned into butter.

To protect the milk from insects and dirt, cheesecloth would often be draped over the pans and pitchers.

Sherwood Forest's milk house is typical of those in the Chesapeake region: a small, square building topped with a pyramidal or gabled roof.

The plaster of paris eaves provide shade while the cyma ("s" shaped) slats allow air to circulate. The bricks surrounding the base of the building also help to keep the interior cool.

The ideal temperature for a dairy was 50 degrees F. In the South, these temperatures were difficult to maintain, especially in the summer. As a result, the region never developed a significant dairy industry.