Constructed in 1911, the American Ice Company is an enduring reminder of West Baltimore’s industrial development with a striking brick facade on W. Franklin Street and a powerhouse that backs up to the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks. At the time of the building’s construction, West Baltimore was quickly developing beyond the 1816 city line as small builders put up new 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 building was severely damaged in a 2004 fire. Fortunately, the current owner supported a recent nomination to the National Register of Historic Places and plans to redevelop the property while retaining the historic ice house structure.