Wheatland's Icehouse/Smokehouse

This building houses an unusual combination: the bottom floor is for refrigeration, while the top floor is set up to smoke meat. If they were standalone structures, the bottom floor would be called an icehouse, while the top would be called a smokehouse.

A typical icehouse stored ice and kept food cool in the days before electric refrigeration. This particular icehouse, however, would have only stored ice. The icehouse has rock walls and is very well insulated. The floor of the structure is dug deep into the ground, and it would have been lined with wood and straw to protect the ice and add extra insulation. Buchanan purchased blocks of ice from a local ice farm, Richard Herr’s Farm, during the winter, and kept them cool in this deep, insulated space.

As another food preservation technique, residents of Wheatland would smoke meats during the late fall to keep them preserved and safe to eat throughout the year. Within the smokehouse is a wooden meat tree, where butchered meat could be smoked slowly over a fire for several days. The fire would have been built to give off as much smoke as possible, while vents in the walls let in just enough air to keep the fire going. The smoking process would improve the flavor of the meat, and preserve it.

Because of the icehouse and the smokehouse, Buchanan could enjoy his favorite meal, pork and sauerkraut, all year long -- maybe even with some ice cream for dessert.

Explore LancasterHistory's Campus of History
  1. LancasterHistory Museum
  2. The Wheatland Grounds
  3. The Carriage House
  4. Wheatland's Privy
  5. Wheatland's Icehouse/Smokehouse
  6. Wheatland as a Gentleman's Farm (Wheatland Kitchen Garden)
  7. Wheatland (Back Porch)
  8. Wheatland (Front Porch)
  9. Frog Pond & West Meadow
  10. The Tanger Arboretum
  11. Pollinator Gardens
  12. The Beech Grove
  13. Dwarf Conifer Garden