Skip to Main Content

Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: MHT Files, n.d.
American Ice Company
Inventory No.: B-1040
Other Name(s): Baltimore American Ice Company
Date Listed: 7/3/2013
Location: 2100 W. Franklin Street, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1911
Architect/Builder: Architect: Mortimer & Co., New York; Builder: Fidelity Construction Company, Baltimore
Description: The American Ice Company is a two-story building, rectangular in plan, with a width of 21 bays along its primary façade facing south on West Franklin Street. The building has an asymmetrical façade and was constructed in 1911 of red bricks laid in an American bond pattern. Each bay is slightly recessed from the main plane of the façade giving the appearance of the bays being divided by pilasters. The most prominent portion of the façade is the entrance area—three bays in width with a parapet that rises above the ridgeline of the rest of the structure. While the façade of the building is not symmetrical, the entrance bays are symmetrical. The entrance contains double, wood doors with glass panes. The doors are in poor condition, with missing wood panels and panes of glass. A transom tops the doors. The doors are reached by a small set of concrete steps. Two openings flank the doors. One opening has been filled in with a louvered vent and brick. The other opening contains the original windows, which are separated by a wood mullion. The windows are proportionately tall and narrow. Multi-pane windows are topped with a four-pane hopper window. A concrete sill is present. On the second level, there is a set of double doors that are contained in a segmental-arch opening. Like the doors on the first level, they are in poor condition with missing glass panes and wood panels. The doors are flanked by two sets of multi-pane, wood-sash windows contained in segmental-arch openings. The central portion of the entrance area features a brick parapet wall that extends from the second story on corbelled brickwork. The parapet, which extends beyond the ridgeline of the building, contains a corbelled cornice. A plaque reading, “AMERICAN ICE COMPANY” is located in a recessed area of the parapet. The recessed area is topped with a brick dentil course. No openings except the door and flanking windows are located on the first level. Recessed areas of brick are evenly spaced along the entire first level. Each area is topped with a brick dentil course. The second level contains a series of evenly spaced window openings. Each window is enclosed in a segmental-arch opening and has a concrete sill. A band of decorative brickwork surrounds each arch head, and each recessed bay is topped with a brick dentil course. The original windows were 4/4 double-hung, wood-frame configurations, but most are now missing, or only remnants remain. The arched openings on the easternmost two bays are filled in with bricks. The façade displays ornate brickwork, including corbelling and dentil courses. A course of recessed, offset brickwork tops the windows, and a brick dentil course is located at the cornice line. The original brick smokestack, which is now truncated, is located at the western end of the building. The northern elevation of the 1911 building is four bays deep and contains segmental-arched openings that have been partially filled in with concrete blocks. Small multi-pane windows remain in the heads of the arches. The entire eastern wall of the 1911 portion of the building has collapsed as the result of a 2004 fire. Portions of the later additions remain on this elevation and are sheathed in sheet metal that was heavily damaged in the fire. Concrete loading docks also remain. A rectangular four-bay-deep, cinder-block addition projects off of the northern elevation as well. The north (rear) elevation of the 1911 building was connected to later additions which were destroyed in the fire. The flat roof is covered with built-up asphalt roofing material. The interior of the building remains largely intact, although some damage from the fire is present. The damage is concentrated primarily on sections of the north and east elevations and associated portions of the ceiling. The flooring of the building is composed of both concrete and wood planks. Interior walls are primarily exposed brick. A large room is located in the front of the building. Ice was produced in thi Significance: Constructed in 1911, the American Ice Company is an enduring reminder of West Baltimore’s industrial development with a striking brick façade on West Franklin Street and a powerhouse that backs up to the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks. At the time of its construction in the early 20th century, West Baltimore was quickly developing beyond the 1816 city line as small developers built rowhouses that soon extended west out to the Gwynns Falls. The previous decade had also witnessed significant changes in the ice industry as the business of importing natural ice from rivers and lakes in the Northeast to Mid-Atlantic and Southern cities dwindled in the face of competition from new factories that enabled businesses to supply a more regular and consistent supply of manufactured ice. The American Ice Company is historically significant for its role in the history of the ice industry in Baltimore. As a modern ice manufacturing plant in the 1910s, the building reflects the adaptation of a large industrial enterprise to a changing technological and social landscape. The plant successfully served the growing community of residents and businesses in Baltimore, and used the adjoining railroad line to transport ice to cities that included New York and Washington, D.C. with greater year-round demand. The American Ice Company building is also architecturally significant as an intact example of a purpose-built ice-manufacturing plant. The rhythmic façade, arched window openings, and use of decorative brickwork are all characteristic of industrial architecture from the early 20th century. The American Ice Company developed scores of ice manufacturing plants across the east coast, but few have survived to the present. Although the property’s integrity of setting has been compromised by the loss of the support structures that completed the complex, the main building retains sufficient integrity to reflect both its architectural character and the property’s role in Baltimore’s ice industry.

 

Return to the National Register Search page