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Mount Vernon in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Icehouse

 
 
Icehouse Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), September 25, 2021
1. Icehouse Marker
Inscription.  
"…in the warm season Ice is the most agreeable thing we can have."
— Martha Washington, February 3, 1793

In the 18th century, ice was a luxury item used for such things as making ice cream and chilling drinks. George Washington's correspondence contains many references to ice and the special structure he built to safeguard the valuable substance. His design consisted of a dry well that was dug into the hillside, encased in wood, and insulated with straw. Washington used dirt and sod to provide further insulation. Inside, a 10-foot long ladder enabled enslaved workers to retrieve ice from the well.

Filling the icehouse was a challenging task. When the Potomac River froze over in the winter, all available enslaved workers were needed to cut as many blocks of ice as possible before temperatures warmed and the river thawed. The blocks were dragged from the riverbank up the hillside and then packed tight into the well.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansAgriculture
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Architecture. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #01 George Washington series list. A significant historical date for this entry is February 3, 1793.
 
Location. 38° 42.422′ N, 77° 5.189′ W. Marker is in Mount Vernon, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker can be reached from George Washington Memorial Parkway east of Mount Vernon Memorial Highway (Virginia Route 235), on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Alexandria VA 22309, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Ha-ha Walls (a few steps from this marker); Dung Repository (within shouting distance of this marker); Washington's Vehicles (within shouting distance of this marker); Powel Coach (within shouting distance of this marker); Kitchen (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Espaliers and Cordons (about 300 feet away); Riding Chair (about 400 feet away); Fence and Ditch (about 400 feet away).
 
Icehouse Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), September 25, 2021
2. Icehouse Marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 26, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 26, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 114 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 26, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Apr. 21, 2024