Friday, February 1, 2008

The Ice House Melteth.

It's been coming down, brick by brick, for several months. For years prior, it has stood vacant and looming, a dinosaur from a bygone era when things like central air and French-door refrigerators were but a twinkle in the eyes of their creators.  This behemoth by the creek,  once provider of ice to families across the city, has stood as a shell-reminder of pre-WWII Kansas City and what changes come with the march of time.

I've been meaning to take a photo of it for years, and as the snow fell earlier this week, I figured no time was better than the present.

I can't find any information about the American Ice Co. online. I did find a good article about ice distribution in the Kansas City, Kansas area, though. From the article:
Probably the earliest use of ice was when blocks of it were cut from frozen rivers and creeks and stored in frame ice houses for use through the summer months. One of the earliest manufacturers of ice in this area was Armour and Company. Armour used ice for refrigerator railroad cars to ship meats and for its coolers.

As the demand for ice increased, several ice plants were built. Ice was used for cold storage facilities for fruit, vegetables, meats and other perishables. it was also used for icing refrigerator railroad cars.

The manufacturing capacity of Kansas City, Kan., ice and cold storage plants exceeded one thousand tons of ice per day. Among the ice companies were: The City Ice Company and its companion company, The Western Ice Service Company, with 14 plants in greater Kansas City; The Southwest Ice Company, 625 Southwest Blvd. (Rosedale); and The Railways Ice Company and Mid-West Cold Storage and Ice Corp. (Armourdale).

It's sunnier out today, and not as cold, so I got one more shot:

The demolition is both controlled and chaotic at the same time. What I mean is, the bricks are coming down, and disappearing, but I never see a wrecking mechanism, and the only people I see hauling away the bricks are what appear to be local scavengers, who snarl in my general direction when I drive by, as if I am going to steal their precious haul. It's surreal, and sad, and makes me feel sort of lonely and nostalgic and yet I anticipate what will become of the site once the building is gone.

The rumor around these parts is that the Gates family has bought up the southeast corner of 47th and Troost, south to 48th St. I don't know what will be done with the land, but I'm all for neighborhood beautification. It's just a shame when something that has character, like the American Ice Co. building, has to be destroyed rather than reused. I know, I know... it's all about the Benjamins.

P.S. Much thanks to Lee for showing off my photo so well. I'm glad to see others will miss the building, too.


  1. Came across your site researching a book that's going to have a KC history component. I guess history was the word that got me here. And because I'm doing this for my livelihood, and because it's Sunday, I was in a crabby mood. I feel better now. Thanks for an amusing blog. Loved the ice company photos. I find that old shit fascinating. Good luck on the cooking. -- pete

  2. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post... nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

  3. We are in the American icehouse at 31st and Wyandotte. Let me know if you have any info on it.