• Dining Room

    John Fitzgerald Kennedy

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

Object of the Month

A sign for the Fresh Pond Ice Company from 1905.

Displayed in one of the dining room windows of the Kennedys' Beals Street house is the sign pictured above. Many early 20th century families would have used such signs to indicate that they required a delivery of ice from the local ice company. The ice would be placed in an ice box, the forerunner of our modern refrigerator, and used to keep perishable items such as milk from spoiling. The ice box, usually made of tin or zinc with hollow walls insulated with sawdust, would hold the ice in an upper compartment that allowed chilled air to filter down and around the stored food. A drain line or drip pan would collect the melted ice water. The company that issued this card, the Fresh Pond Ice Company, was one of the best known New England ice providers at the time.

The Fresh Pond Ice Company was originally founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1882 but grew out of prior ice harvesting operations dating back to about 1805. In 1890 the company moved to Brookline, New Hampshire where it harvested ice from Lake Muscatanapus. The ice was shipped by train to facilities in Somerville and Cambridge MA, and then distributed from there to customers. One side of the card pictured above shows a scene with horse-drawn ice wagons loading blocks of ice that have been transported by rail from the plant in New Hampshire.

When safer and more efficient electric refrigerators that incorporated freezer containers became common in the 1930s, the ice harvesting industry became obsolete. The Fresh Pond Ice Company ended operations when its facility in Brookline NH burned down in 1935.

 

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