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July 22, 2014

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Ginny Stevens of the Blowing Rock Historical Society speaks to commissioners about the historic Ice House. Photo by Jeff Eason

Originally published: 2013-07-11 08:36:48
Last modified: 2013-07-11 08:37:32

Historical society to use Ice House

It may be one of the smallest buildings in town, but the Blowing Rock Historical Society believes the old Ice House on Maple Drive is one of the most important.

“We’re not sure when it was built, probably in the 1920s,” said Ginny Stevens of the Blowing Rock Historical Society in a presentation to the Blowing Rock Town Council Tuesday night.

“We love the Ice House. It was originally where ice from Chetola Lake was stored and sold, but has also been a service station, home of  The Blowing Rocket, a TV repair shop and the ticket office of the Blowing Rock Stage Company.”

For the past decade, the Ice House, located down the street from the Blowing Rock Post Office, has sat vacant, although it is used by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce for storage and during the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival.

“As we all know, no vacant building does very well,” Stevens said.

During Tuesday’s meeting, she said that the Blowing Rock Historical Society would like to take over stewardship of the building, which is owned by the town of Blowing Rock.

The society has previously taken over Edgewood Cottage and the 1888 Museum located next to Blowing Rock Memorial Park.

The society plans to set up dioramas in the building that people could look at through the large front window. One proposed diorama would show visitors how ice was pulled from Chetola Lake, then called Silver Lake, and sold from the Ice House.

“My grandfather sold ice in Blowing Rock,” said Commissioner Tommy Klutz. “Sometimes, no one would be there to pay him. So he devised a system where people would prepay for ice with coupons.”

The commissioners agreed that the town could allow the Blowing Rock Historical Society to take over the Ice House.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the town council voted unanimously to:

• Approve a consideration that would alter a town code amendment to allow alcohol consumption in designated areas of the Blowing Rock American Legion building. The property is currently being renovated and will be available for special events such as wedding receptions.

• Approve the dates requested by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce for 2014 events. Winterfest will be held Jan. 23-26. The Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival will be held April 9-14. Art the Park dates will be May 17, June 14, July 19, Aug. 16, Sept. 6 and Oct. 4.

• Approve consideration of changing the town’s bank service provider. Currently the town uses Wells Fargo. After consideration of a periodic review of the services offered by Wells Fargo, First Citizens and United Community Bank, the council gave the town approval to sign a three-year contract with United Community Bank. Mayor J.B. Lawrence, an employee of United Community Bank of Blowing Rock, recused himself of the discussion and vote.

• Approve consideration of an engineer services agreement with McGill Associates for design, bidding and construction support services for the Appalachian Regional Healthcare infrastructure project, located on U.S. 321 next to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

• Approve consideration of a services agreement with the High Country Council of Governments for both a sewer inventory and update project and a Woodlawn Cemetery mapping project.

• Approve consideration of a budget amendment to properly account for the hiring of part-time employees for the Blowing Rock Fire and Rescue team. The employees will provide a second person to man the ambulances at night. According to BRF&R Capt. Kent Graham, the $28,000 needed for the part-time employees will come from rural district funding, channeled through the town of Blowing Rock.

At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, it was announced that Bob Shepherd will serve as interim town manager when Scott Hildebran steps down on July 12.

According to Hildebran, 45 people have applied for the town manager position and town officials are hoping to narrow the search to single digits by the end of the month.The application period is now closed.

Hildebran is leaving the position after more than a decade in Blowing Rock to take the position of assistant town manager in Morganton.
For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.

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