The Ipswich ice house

The Ice House

Maynard Whittier wholesale and retail ice, Ipswich MALathrop Brothers Coal and Ice Company was located at “Tougas’ pit,” a small body of water that may have been an old channel of the Ipswich River. It can be accessed off of Hayward Street at “Ice House Crossing.” Photos courtesy of Bill George and archives.

Susan Howard Boice wrote that it took three railroad cars full of lumber to build the ice house. The inclines on the outside of the building were used to haul ice up the levels. Ice was harvested on the Ipswich River between Upper River Road and Hayward Street. Lines were drawn on the ice and horses dragged “groovers” along the line, cutting the ice about 6 to 8 inches deep. was cut into rectangular blocks. The ice was then floated to the ice house, where it was cut to 22″ blocks using a sharp needle bar. Horses or motors moved the ice up inclined ramps, where metal bars along the inclines shaved the blocks to a uniform size.

The Ipswich ice house

Sliding ice up the ramp. Kallie Wojtonik informs us that the 3 men pictured in 2 of the photos are Arthur LeClair, Alexander LeClair (owners of the ice house at the time of these photos), and Rolly Hinkley

Inside the ice house, “wingers” with spiked boots swung the ice blocks into piles. The blocks were covered with hay, and the sawdust insulation in the walls helped keep the ice from melting until summer.


Crew at the Ice House in Ipswich
Crew at the Ice House in Ipswich
Ice harvesting on the Ipswich River. Hayward Hosiery is in the background. The Alley would be to the right. Photo courtesy of Linda George Grimes
Early ice harvesting in Massachusetts
Loction of the Ice house  near the end of Hayward Street, between the river and the tracks
Location of the ice house near the end of Hayward Street, between the river and the tracks

Ted Pickul tells us that he played in the old ice house as a child, and remembers Art Leclair cutting ice there, storing it, and delivering it to people until summer, when he usually ran out.

Wally and Charles Lathrop and Walter Dukeshire delivering ice at the top of Market Street


Ice harvesting in 1894


2 thoughts on “The Ice House”

  1. My Dad told me he used to go down the railroad yard area of Ipswich shellfish and watch Art Leclair and a few others unload new Chevrolets from boxcars There is a photo at town hall showing that area Shellfish was one large railroad yard My dad was manager of woolworths in the early 50s

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