RVA Legends — Transparent Ice Works

RVA Legends — Transparent Ice Works

A look into the history of Richmond places and people that have disappeared from our landscape.

[RVCJ93] — Transparent Ice Works, Hermann Schmidt, Proprietor
[RVCJ93] — Transparent Ice Works, Hermann Schmidt, Proprietor

120 South Adams Street
Built, after 1877
Demolished, unknown

A competitor to Mrs. Jane King!

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 91
(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 91

The Transparent Ice Works, situated at the corner of Adams and Canal streets, are owned (together with ample room to enable them to enlarge) by Hermann Schmidt. They embrace also a cold-storage department, which is a great advantage to those of the business community handling perishable commodities.

(Chronicling America) — advertisement from the Richmond Dispatch — Sunday, January 23, 1903
(Chronicling America) — advertisement from the Richmond Dispatch — Sunday, January 23, 1903

These works were established ten years ago by Mr. Schmidt. He makes a strictly pure ice in them from distilled water. They have 35 tons daily capacity, and ran ten teams for city delivery; they employ thirty hands, and have an output of about 6,000 tons of product a year. Their equipment is of the Johnson compression patent. Shipments are made from them to all parts of this State.

(Library of Congress) — Beers Illustrated Atlas of the Cities of Richmond & Manchester, 1877 — Plate J — showing the undeveloped corner at Canal & Adams
(Library of Congress) — Beers Illustrated Atlas of the Cities of Richmond & Manchester, 1877 — Plate J — showing the undeveloped corner at Canal & Adams

Mr. Schmidt is a man of more than ordinary enterprise. He is the proprietor also of two grocery stores here—one on Broad and the other on Main street. He is the president of the Virginia Building and Loan Association, and is largely interested also in other local projects.

June 2019 — looking southwest towards 120 South Adams Street today
June 2019 — looking southwest towards 120 South Adams Street today

He is, in fact, one of the most substantial men, financially, in the city. He is of German birth, but has been a resident here for twenty-seven years, and for five years before that time was an exporter and importer of New York city. [RVCJ93]

[RVCJ] — Richmond Brewery & Hygeia Ice Factory
[RVCJ] — Richmond Brewery & Hygeia Ice Factory
Back in the day, being in the ice business meant getting cakes of river ice from northern states. By producing ice from distilled water instead, Schmidt was competing directly with Hygeia Ice Factory, the first company in Richmond to sell distilled water ice, and with Mrs. Jane King, who controlled the company’s entire output (”… see Jane run… see Jane run a business… see Jane kick the competition’s ass…”).

Like Mrs. King, Hermann Schmidt could see the future coming.

(Transparent Ice Works is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [RVCJ93] Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James: The Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests. G. W. Engelhardt. 1893.

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