Ice House and Chicken House

Color photograph of two red colored 19th century wooden structures.
Ice House (left) and Chicken House (right), circa 2017

NPS / David Newmann

The ice house and chicken house functioned as important outbuildings at White Haven. The ice house dates back to roughly 1840 while the chicken house was most likely constructed circa 1850 to 1870. The ice house has a stone base with a stone wall across the structure to separate two different rooms. Ice from local water streams was stored in the north room (facing the walking trace today) with sawdust packed on top for preservation. It is believed the south room housed perishable foods and drinks for refrigeration. The ice house was intentionally built into a soft, sloping hill just south of Little Prairie Creek so that the ice could be stored underground. Enslaved labor most likely did the work of cutting out and storing ice in this structure before the Civil War.

The chicken house is a two-story structure that features three rooms on the main floor and a large storage space on the upper level. Forty to fifty chickens per half acre were typically housed at this structure, with space for a scratch/feed room on the main level. When the Grant family lived at White Haven in the 1850s, Julia Dent Grant kept a number of chickens as personal pets. She recalled that “my chickens were marvelous in their yield. I never had the least trouble,” and that she usually raised fourteen to eighteen baby chicks at a time. Enslaved laborers tended to the daily work of feeding Julia’s chickens and keeping the chicken house clean.

Black and white photograph of two wood framed farm structures.
Ice House (left) and Chicken House (right), circa 1940

Library of Congress / Historic American Building Survey

Last updated: February 26, 2019

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St. Louis, MO 63123


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