Charlottesville in Albemarle County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
—Thomas Jeﬀerson's Monticello —
The circular Ice House, 16 feet across and 16 feet deep, was intentionally located on the colder, north side of the house to help preserve the ice. The North Terrace above offered further protection from sun and water. The access door was locked for safety and to prevent theft.
If it is now as cold with you as it is here I am in hopes you will be able and ready to fill the icehouse. It would be a real calamity should we not have ice to do it, as it would require double the quantity of fresh meat in summer had we not ice to keep it.
Thomas Jefferson to Edmund Bacon, January 3, 1809
Maintaining a Store of Ice
When winter weather yielded ice as least an inch thick, Jefferson's overseer assembled a force of carts and wagons with teams and drivers, many of them hired locally, to transport the ice to the mountaintop. When the Ice House was filled for the first time, Jefferson recorded
The ice was packed solid and insulated around the perimeter with straw or wood shavings. Each week as the ice melted, water had to be drawn off either by the bucket or pulley system Jefferson first envisioned, a pump, or a hand-drawn bucket.
The contents of the Ice House once served another purpose--saving the main part of the house from fire. Jefferson wrote to a friend in May 1819 about a blaze that damaged the North Pavilion: "Our snow house enabled us so far to cover with snow the adjacent terra (terrace) which connected it with the main building as to prevent its affecting that."
Location. 38° 0.638′ N, 78° 27.149′ W. Marker is in Charlottesville, Virginia, in Albemarle County. Marker can be reached from Thomas Jefferson Parkway. Click for map. Marker is on the grounds of Monticello and requires an entrance fee. Marker is in this post office area: Charlottesville VA 22902, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. North Terrace Wing (within shouting distance of this marker); Barrier (within shouting distance of this marker); Mulberry Row (about 400 feet away, measured in a Textiles (about 400 feet away); Smokehouse/Dairy (about 400 feet away); The Levy Legacy (about 400 feet away); Slave Housing (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Mulberry Row (about 400 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Charlottesville.
Categories. • Notable Buildings •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 451 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on , by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. 2. submitted on , by Michael C. Wilcox of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 3. submitted on , by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page was last revised on December 16, 2016.