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Alexandria, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Gadsby's Tavern Ice Well

 
 
The Gadsby's Tavern Ice Well Marker image. Click for full size.
By Denise Boose, April 21, 2011
1. The Gadsby's Tavern Ice Well Marker
Inscription. Underground ice wells were used in the 18th and 19th centuries to store ice for use during the warm months. In Alexandria, blocks of ice were cut from the Potomac River. Ice was placed in this well through a square opening which is marked in the pavement above.

The well consist of shallow brick dome, a circular brick shaft 15' deep and 17' in diameter and a sand floor. A brick tunnel extends from the well to the basement of the tavern. Originally the well was completely underground. In 1976 it was strengthened by the installation of steel bands, and the wing area and windows were installed.

This well, a rare survivor, served the tavern and the town. Tavern keeper John Gadsby sold ice in 1805 for 8¢ per pound. The ice well was restored by the City of Alexandria in 1976 as part of the restoration of Gadsby Tavern. You may tour Gadsby's Tavern Museum to learn more about the well or the tavern.
 
Erected by City of Alexandria Virginia.
 
Location. 38° 48.344′ N, 77° 2.615′ W. Marker is in Alexandria, Virginia. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Cameron Street and North Royal Street, on the left when traveling west. Click for map. Located on Cameron Street, the entrance is from
The Gadsby's Tavern Ice Well Marker on the wall to the left. image. Click for full size.
By Denise Boose, April 21, 2011
2. The Gadsby's Tavern Ice Well Marker on the wall to the left.
the sidewalk. Marker is at or near this postal address: 134 N Royal St, Alexandria VA 22314, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Gadsby’s Tavern (a few steps from this marker); The Front Door of Gadsby's Tavern (a few steps from this marker); The Memorial Fountain (within shouting distance of this marker); Alexandria, Virginia (within shouting distance of this marker); Alexandria Washington Lodge (within shouting distance of this marker); Site of Assembly Hall (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Site of First Services of the Salvation Army (about 400 feet away); Washington’s Town House (about 400 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Alexandria.
 
Also see . . .  Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. (Submitted on March 19, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceMan-Made Features
 
Historic Ice Well Restoration Marker image. Click for full size.
By Denise Boose, April 21, 2011
3. Historic Ice Well Restoration Marker
Ice from this well was served to George Washington! This c.1793 subterranean ice well was constructed by tavern keeper John Wise to provided the tavern with a ready supply of ice and a way to refrigerate food and drinks. Ice was harvested from local rivers during the winter months and was smoothed into a solid mass so that it would last into the summer months. The ability to provide ice as an amenity, serve chilled beverages and the most fashionable iced desserts of the time - including flavored ice cream - made Gadsby's Tavern a five-star hotel in its day.

The museum is raising money to make this ice well more visible to visitors like you. Restoration plans include improved viewing panels, better lighting, a raised viewing desk, ad interpretive sinage. For more information about this restoration and how you can help, please visit. www.GadsbysTavern.org

Ice for Sale.
Persons may be supplied with ICE, at eight cents per pound, on application to John Gadsby. June 20, 3t
Alexandria Advertiser, June 20, 1805
The Gadsby's Tavern image. Click for full size.
By Denise Boose, January 6, 2003
4. The Gadsby's Tavern
The ice well is just to the right if your facing the building located off of Cameron street along the sidewalk.
The Gadsby's Tavern Room Plan<br> showing the Ice Well image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 2, 2014
5. The Gadsby's Tavern Room Plan
showing the Ice Well
Architectural drawing in the Gadsby's Tavern Museum.
The Gadsby's Tavern Ice Well<br> outlined on the Sidwalk image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 2, 2014
6. The Gadsby's Tavern Ice Well
outlined on the Sidwalk
Inside the Ice Well image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 2, 2014
7. Inside the Ice Well
Window into the Icewell image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 2, 2014
8. Window into the Icewell
1793 image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 2, 2014
9. 1793
In 1793, the Alexandria Common Council granted permission for John Wise to build an icehouse underneath the corner of Royal and Cameron Streets as part of his construction of the new City Tavern.
inscription over the window -- Part 1
Brick Lined Ice Well image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 2, 2014
10. Brick Lined Ice Well
This brick-lined ice well is a unique architectural feature, much larger than most ice wells. The well could store up to 62tons of ice, enough ice to supply the tavern and even the citizens of Alexandria.
Inscription over the window -- Part 2
Blocks of Ice image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 2, 2014
11. Blocks of Ice
Blocks of ice, harvested from the Potomac River, were lowered through a hatch at street level. The blocks were pounded into one large ice mass and covered with straw to limit melting.
Inscription over the window -- Part 3
John Gadsby image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 2, 2014
12. John Gadsby
John Gadsby who leased the tavern from John Wise in 1796, capitalized on ice as an amenity to the tavern, selling it to the public for eight cents per pound in 1805.
Inscription over the window -- Part 4
Ice <i>for Sale</i>. image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 2, 2014
13. Ice for Sale.
Perſons may be ſupplied with ICE, at eight cents per pound, on application to John Gadsby, June 20 {1805}
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California. This page has been viewed 708 times since then and 19 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California.   5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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