Archeologists at the President's House: What did they find?

In 2001, land was being cleared for construction of the new Liberty Bell Center. Archeologists discovered a stone pit, and investigated with very small shovels and discovered the equivalent of a freezer. It was an 18th Century Ice House. This one was very special and had an advanced design that Robert Morris was so proud of he wrote a letter describing it to his friend Washington. Washington built one exactly like it at his home in Virginia.

"The door for entering the Ice House faces the north, a trap door is made in the middle of the Floor through which the Ice is put and taken out. I find it best to fill with Ice which as it is put in should be broke into small pieces and pounded down with heavy Clubs or Battons such as Pavers use, if well beat it will after a while consolidate into one solid mass and require to be Cut out with a chizell or Axe-- I tried Snow one year and lost it in June. The Ice keeps until October or November and I believe if the Hole was larger so as to hold more it would keep until Christmas. The closer it is packed the better it keeps and I believe if the Walls were lined with Straw between the Ice and the Stone it would preserve it..."

—Robert Morris to GW, June 15, 1784

Scroll down to see the ice house.




Conjectural appearance of Robert Morris's icehouse at 190 High Street,
based on a description in his June 15, 1784 letter to George Washington.
Rendering by Tod Benedict, John Milner Associates.

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