Thursday, June 14, 2012

Irvington Ice & Coal Expands

Irvington Ice & Coal flourished in the neighborhood for decades.  Begun in 1916, the operation grew over the years at its location at 400 South Ritter Avenue.  While these images of the company may not fit the mold of the  neighborhood, largely known for its winding streets, tall trees, and stately homes, it was nonetheless, an important part of the community.  Behind the complex, and stretching towards Burgess Avenue, workers toiled in the coal piles.  As you can see from these photos, it was a fairly large operation.

The Swartz and Thompson families ran the business.  Over the years, numerous men and a few women worked with the company. Below, you will see a photo of Mr. Rumpler, the debt collector, and one of Ralph McClure, who worked in the coal plies.

By the 1940s, the company had added onto the already large structure located along Ritter Avenue next  to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  They also updated their fleet of vehicles.

Many Irvingtonians stayed warm in the winter thanks to this company and kept their food cool in their ice boxes during the warmer months.  As refrigeration became common, and citizens turned to natural gas, coal and ice companies like this one had to diversify or close shop.  Irvington Ice & Coal was eventually bought out by an oil company in the 1970s and shut down.  Today, several of the structures on the site still exist and a ghost sign still adorns at least one building.

These historic images are courtesy of Rodney and Sue Thompson.  You may also see additional views of this business by visiting the Irvington Historical Society located in the Bona Thompson Library.