Ice House

An ice house is an insulated structure that stored ice in the days before electrical refrigeration. Ice houses were generally small, constructed of wood or sometimes stone, and with a square or rectangular footprint. Usually they were gable roofed. Sometimes they had two rooms, one for the ice itself and another for cold storage. Ice houses possess one or more of the following features: blank walls; ventilators, either on the roof ridge in the clerestory or cupola style, or simple louvers in the gable peak; gable-end or eaves-side doors; and thick walls. If constructed of wood, the walls would be filled with insulating material, often sawdust. Ice houses are sometimes sited within the orbit of the farmhouse, though the location of the ice source (a pond or sometimes a creek) may also influence siting. Ice houses can be found throughout the state.

Icehouse with sawdust-filled walls from Boalsburg, Centre County
Ice house, Centre County, c. 1910.
The window reveals a work and storage space. This version has sawdust-filled walls.
It dates to the early 20th century.

Walter-Kautz Ice House, Smithfield Township, Monroe County. HABS Photo by George Eisenman, 1968
Walter-Kautz Ice House, Smithfield Township, Monroe County, date unknown.
Photographed by George Eisenman, 1968.
HABS photo. HABS PA,45-SHAWD.V,8D--1