Consumers Ice building torn down for possible development

SANDUSKY Another piece of Sandusky history is melting away to make room for new development.
May 24, 2010



Another piece of Sandusky history is melting away to make room for new development.

Denny Byington, owner of Southern Most Northern, Ltd., is razing the building on First Street that formerly housed The Consumers Ice Co., later City Products.

He hopes the land will be of more value to the area as a mixed-use property, which could include a marina, condominiums or retail.

"We're making it conform to what we think the future of the waterfront in Sandusky is," Byington said as the excavator added more rubble to a pile.

The building, vacant for two years, was built in 1910 by The Consumers Ice Co. and was the first company on Sandusky Bay to manufacture ice mechanically rather than harvest it from the lake when the area was known as "The Ice Capital of the Great Lakes."

According to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, Sanduskians harvested 400,000 tons of ice each winter from Lake Erie and shipped it as far as St. Louis. Ice was stored in ice houses that lined the shore.

At the turn of the 20th century entrepreneurs throughout the country were investing in ice-making technology, and The Consumers Ice Co. was the first in the Sandusky Bay area to convert its ice house used for storing harvested ice into a building intended to manufacture ice.

Drew Westerhold, 57, remembers working there in the late 1960s into the early '70s when they cubed, bagged and delivered ice from that location.

"Best job I ever had. Back then kids used to look up to ice men. Don't know why, but they did. Handling that ice made us strong, because those blocks weighed 350 pounds."

A small door in the middle of the west side of the building is one of few clues hinting at its original purpose. From the 1940s through the 1960s blocks of ice were loaded through the opening onto vehicles.

After Denny Byington and then-partners Dean Howman and John Stewart bought the building in 1980, he tore out the old ice manufacturing equipment.

Howman stopped by to check out the demolition Wednesday.

"I'm glad to see the area being cleaned up. It was getting old and it's past its usefulness," Howman said.

The building was rented to a variety of businesses over the years, such as Alarm-Tec and Ace Limousine Services, but it is still remembered as the "ice house."

"It became a landmark to the area on the east end," Byington said.