In the days before electric refrigeration, perishable foods were stored in iceboxes. Ice was readily available, even in the summer months. During the winter, ice was commercially harvested from ponds and rivers, then shipped via railroad to urban areas like Philadelphia. From the urban areas, the ice was moved again to the rural parts of the country and stored in local icehouses. If it was cold enough, ice was even harvested at Lake Lily in Cape May Point.
The icehouses were generally small, windowless buildings. The ice blocks would be carefully packed together with sawdust. In 1904, Dr. Physick purchased the Independent Ice & Coal Company, which was located on Washington Street.
According to oral history, Dr. Physick had several iceboxes in his home. He had a small icebox, similar to this one, in the refrigerator room. Dr. Physick also had several “floor to ceiling” iceboxes in the basement, where he would store meat purchased from the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.
Look for the icebox in the refrigerator room during your tour of the Physick Estate.