Fairfield 375: Ice house has melted into Fairfield's past
EDITOR'S NOTE: Fairfield, established in 1639, is one of Connecticut's oldest communities. From its settlement 375 years ago by English colonists on "four squares" of land that Native Americans called Uncoway to the vibrant town of 60,000 residents that it is today, Fairfield's history is a chronicle of compelling events and colorful characters.
The Fairfield Citizen has highlighted vignettes from that rich history throughout the 375th anniversary year.
"The ice house I remember from my youth was located off Old Mill Road on the property owned by Richard and Charlotte Perry. A barn-like structure, it was approximately 75 by 150 feet and as high as a three-story building. It was built from trees on the Perry property. They had their own sawmill. For insulation they used sawdust from the cut boards that were used to build the ice house.
"There was a conveyor running from the pond to the ice house which was powered by a Ford tractor. The ice was about 16 to 18 inches thick and cut into 4-by-5-foot blocks by a motor-powered circular saw. Then the blocks of ice were pushed one by one onto the conveyor by men with long-handled tongs and taken into the ice house, where they were placed in orderly fashion by another crew of men working inside the building. The conveyor had to be adjusted for each layer of ice being transported.
"The ice was thick enough to drive an automobile on it! But in the following years the winters were not as cold and the ice was not as thick. The electric refrigerator started appearing in many homes, and the icebox and the iceman eventually became history."