Tuesday, October 28, 2008

UPDATE: Woodmont Apple Farm Icehouse: GONE!

Yes, it is true. The Woodmont Apple Farm Icehouse, a true landmark, is gone.

After publishing this post on August 8, I got the following emails from Selectmen of Hollis:

Dear Tracy Lee:

Thank you for sharing this information with me. I am one of the five selectmen who will be discussing this tonight. I am also the person who encouraged my late mother's private foundation to provide the necessary funds to repair and restore the ice house for the benefit of our current residents as well as future generations.

I can not speak for all of the board, but my sense is that there is not a considerable appetite to demolish this historic building - but rather one to repair and restore.

Kind regards,

Mark A. LeDoux



Thanks very much for letting me know about this discussion of the Woodmont Orchards Ice House. Many of the comments reflect my own sentiments. I can assure you that the Woodmont Orchard Ice House is not going to be demolished on my watch.


Mark Johnson
Selectman, Town of Hollis


Hi Tracy,

Thank you for your email. I believe there has been some miscommunication in the newspapers. The intent was never to demolish the Ice House. The intent was to restore or reconstruct an exact replica. Either way it is the intent of the Board of Selectmen to ensure that the Woodmont Orchard Ice house will remain a Hollis Landmark in perpetuity.

David Petry
Vice Chairman, Board of Selectmen
Town of Hollis

I think it is interesting that David Petry said, "The intent was never to demolish the Ice House."

Today I was saddened to receive the following email:


As you may know (and I am sorry to tell you if you don't know), the ice house has been demolished. I resigned from office in late August because I will be relocating out of state. Before I resigned, I made sure that there was a contractor to repair the ice house and money to pay for it. I also lined up selectmen support for this plan. Immediately after I resigned the town reversed course. A "replica" is being built at a cost of five times the bid for the repairs.

Mark Everett Johnson


The repairs are going to cost FIVE TIMES the bid for repairs? Huh? WHY was this landmark demolished? I find this totally irresponsible, especially in a state where fiscal responsibility has always been a time honoured tradition. Forget for a moment that the building had become a historic landmark in the eyes of the people in the area and that many have chosen to honour this building in paintings and photographs, but what about Yankee Frugality? FIVE TIMES the bid for repairs, money that was already set aside for these repairs. FIVE TIMES as much. If I were a resident of Hollis I would be asking the selectmen WHY?

1 comment:

Tracy Lee said...

I had forgotten that I had also posted this over at Area603

Ice House, Chennai, and the Ice Trade: It’s history!
By che_david

July 9th, 2006 @ 3:05 PM Uncategorized

Can you believe that the original Ice House was a part of international trade and commerce? The Ice Trade to be exact. Of course you can, after all it was called the ‘Ice House’, wasn’t it? But wait, it’s much more than that. It was part of a chain of Ice Houses built by a young, enterprising entrepreneur from New England called Frederic Tudor. There’s even a book on the subject, called ‘The Frozen-Water Trade: A true story’ by Gavin Weightman. A review of the book on www.curledup.com (http://www.curledup.com/frozen.htm) says: The Frozen-Water Trade is a delightful history lesson. At a time when ice cream and iced drinks are de rigueur, it is hard to imagine that once ice was not in fashion, and that a young man named Frederic Tudor created our “addiction” to the commodity.

Frederic Tudor came from a fairly wealthy Bostonian family, one that believed in the merits of quality education. At the age of thirteen, Frederic decided to drop out of Boston Latin School where he had been sent in preparation for Harvard. Young Frederic concluded that “college was a waste of time” and spent idle days inventing gadgets at the family farm. At seventeen, he traveled to Cuba with his brother and discovered that he could not find any cool drinks: “he would have given anything for a lump of Rockwood ice when he felt the heat of Cuba that summer.” It was then that the Tudors decided to start a business in ice trading. Cold New England winters created tons of ice that essentially just went to waste come spring. Why not “harvest” this ice and ship it to warmer climates, and make a neat profit in the process?

As the Tudor brothers started in the ice trade, they held their plans close to their chest. Frederic, for one, did not want any competition early on. Turns out that he needn’t have worried, for as Bostonians learnt of the trade, it was not competition that he had to contend with, but ridicule. As the years passed, Frederic had to deal with many pitfalls: heavy debt, incarceration, even a nervous breakdown before he could finally prove his point. The fact that he was a “stubborn and determined young man who seemed to thrive on the challenge of accomplishing something that others regarded as impossible and foolhardy” also helped.

Like a true enterprising businessman, Frederic predicted and built all the support structures needed for successful execution of his ice trade. He researched the insulating materials that would let the ice survive a ship haul all the way from New England to Cuba and other tropical climes. Peat and charcoal didn’t quite work well; he finally settled on sawdust, creating a thriving offshoot industry for Maine’s sawmills which now discovered a market for something that was just being thrown away. Frederic also designed and built numerous icehouses to hold the ice once it reached port.

In order that people preserve ice for a limited time after purchase, he also sold blankets that could be wrapped around the ice. Despite ice’s obvious appeal, trade in Cuba was not brisk. Yet Frederic Tudor stuck it out till the end. His highest point was when ice cut in New England (much of it from Fresh Water Pond in Cambridge) was shipped to the British East India Company to Calcutta. The cargo reached port with two-thirds of its goods still intact. The Brits were thrilled to receive the ice and did all they could to facilitate the ice trade from New England. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, concerns over pollution and the use of effective refrigerant materials drove the impetus towards artificial refrigeration. By this time, Frederic Tudor had made his fortunes in the ice business and died a wealthy, happy old man.

Gavin Weightman, a journalist living in London, has done a wonderful job of creating an extremely readable tale about true Yankee ingenuity. Frederic Tudor made something (and a lot of it!) out of nothing. The text is ably supplemented with old pictures of the ice trade. Pictures of icemen making deliveries in Boston and New York are true historical treasures. Today Fresh Pond (which is close to Harvard) in Cambridge is a jogger’s paradise. Weightman says that he approached a few joggers on an unusually warm late winter day and asked them if they knew that ice from here was shipped all the way to India once. “I could see a shadow of doubt fall across the faces of those I stopped,” he says, “is this guy crazy?” I sensed they were asking themselves, “How could you sell ice to India without a refrigerator?”‘ With The Frozen-Water Trade, Weightman proves that reality can indeed be stranger and even a lot livelier than fiction.

The Harvard Business School Archive’s review of a biography of Frederic tudor adds:
‘Largely forgotten today, the ice cutting industry was one of the major business enterprises in 18th and 19th century Boston. Ice cut in New England was packed onto insulated ships and transported across the globe. At the center of this booming industry was a successful entrepreneur, Frederick Tudor, better known as the “Ice King.” The Tudor Ice Company owned icehouses in Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Galle, Singapore, Jamaica, Havana, New Orleans, and Charleston. Tudor conquered many challenges in packing, shipping, and storing ice in far away lands–not the least of which were weather issues–as excerpted in a new biography of Tudor published by the Massachusetts Historical Society and Mystic Seaport.’