Landscape Tour Stop 5
Before the turn of the century, the Eustis family dammed a small creek to create a pond so that ice could be harvested at the property. Before electricity was widely available, ice was the principal method for keeping food fresh, and there was undoubtedly a large icebox in the service wing of the mansion. At some point, a wooden ice house was built adjacent to the pond for easy collection and storage. Today the pond is strictly ornamental.
Paul Johnson, son of the landscape gardener in the early 20th century, recalls fishing and diving from the ice house plank way during the summer. In his autobiography he shares a story from one summer when the children were allowed to harvest melons from a neighboring farm:
We kids could help ourselves to [the leftover melons] and did we ever! We stored these in the ice house and for weeks dined like royalty. A group of ten or twelve of us decided to have a feast on the ice. We split up in pairs to find the makings. It was a hot day in midsummer, so we rounded up some sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, and others caught some frogs in the ice pond for some delicious frog legs. We started a fire on the beach at the edge of the pond and fried up the frog legs in butter and roasted the corn. Now we sat in the shade of the ice house and ate hot frogs legs with corn on the cob, chilled salad of tomatoes and cucumbers and had plenty of chilled, dead ripe melon for dessert. For drinks we had cold spring water running out of the hillside two hundred feet away. Then we opened the doors of the ice house and sat in the breeze drifting through. What a comfortable place on a hot day this was. (One Man’s Story by Paul Johnson, 1991)