Historic Ice Well

The Historic Ice Well at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum offers a glimpse into early Alexandria’s commercial and social history. An important and rare example of a commercial well in an urban environment, it provided the tavern with a ready supply of ice to cool beverages or help make the new dessert of the day, ice cream.

Page updated on Nov 6, 2019 at 10:55 AM

The history of Gadsby's Tavern is, at its core, a story of American commerce and entrepreneurship.  Community leaders, including those of the fledgling national government, met at Gadsby's to conduct business and discuss the news of the day that arrived via ship in the busy port of Alexandria. Large, community celebratory events hosting America's first six Presidents occurred at the tavern, including George Washington's Birthnight Celebrations and Thomas Jefferson's 1801 Inaugural Banquet.  As travelers ventured to the new Federal City, Gadsby's Tavern set the standard for the nation's emerging hospitality industry.  One example of this was the subterranean ice well, built underneath the corner of Royal and Cameron Streets during the City Tavern's construction.

Ice Well History Gadsby's Tavern Historic image

Learn about the history of the ice well and its importance to Alexandria's early hospitality industry.

Ice Well Restoration Project  Ice Well logo

Learn about the award winning Ice Well Restoration Project.

Ice Melt Contest (February 18 - April 9, 2011) Ice Well Webcam image

Using 18th-century ice preservation techniques, 6,300 pounds of ice melted inside the historic ice well during the Museum's Ice Melt Contest in 2011.  Through photographs, see the transformation from ice mound to nothing! This contest and event would not have been possible without the generous support from the local community.