My mother talks about an old icehouse on Chartres Street in the Quarter because her Aunt Pauline used to live across the street from it. Can you tell me the street address? This will help us locate Aunt Pauline's old apartment.
Aunt Pauline must have lived in the 1000 block of Chartres Street because that block was home to the French Market Ice Manufacturing Company at 1024 Chartres St.
The ice company opened in 1903, a year after it was formed by a group of French, Italian, Austrian and German businessmen who needed the ice to ship large quantities of oysters, fish and produce. Joseph Vaccaro was president of the company.
Two brick houses built in the 1830s were demolished to make way for the new icehouse, but historic preservation was not an issue at the time.
If Aunt Pauline was living across the street from the icehouse in November 1927, she must have been terrified when fire broke out on the third floor, sparking an explosion of crude oil and ammonia tanks that could be heard 10 blocks away. Thousands of people gathered at the scene. Hours later, at midnight, the massive fire was under control but still smoldering, and hardly a building in the block escaped water damage.
The icehouse wasn't very popular in the neighborhood because of its truck traffic and the noise that goes along with a manufacturing plant. Some nearby residents considered it an improvement when another fire caused the ice plant to close in 1959, and the location became home to the Hotel Provincial, which won the Best Restorations Award from the Vieux Carre Commission. In homage to its origins, the hotel has an Ice House Bar adjacent to the lobby.