An Ice House - also known as ice wells, ice pits or ice mounds - is a building for storing ice throughout the year. They date before the invention of the electricity and the modern refrigerator, which largely replaced them by the 1950s.
Barrells Ice Cellar,” n.d. Fig. 2, Anonymous, “Montpelier, Va., the Seat of the late James Madison,” 1835. The term icehouse, or ice house, as dictionary definitions make clear, refers to a structure for preserving ice year round and for keeping food and beverages cool during the warm months.
These ancient ice houses were used to store blocks of ice that were gathered during winter – sometimes the ice was shipped in from mountain towns. Partially-buried buildings with thick walls would house several tons of ice that were covered with straw or sawdust to further insulate the blocks.