Visit the VillageCookhouse MealsOnline Heritage GiftsGenealogy and ArchivesSpecial Events ScheduleWeddings to WorkshopsSpecial Tour PackagesHeritage Society Info


The Irvin Webber Homestead, Barn and Icehouse

The homestead was built around 1900 and would have been considered very substantial in its time, although it was never completely finished on the inside. It measures 22' x 28', with four bedrooms upstairs and a parlour, kitchen, pantry and birthing room (a room usually on the ground floor and close to the heat source used for childbirth and recuperation from illness downstairs.

When it was first built it would not have had running water, an inside toilet, electricity, refrigeration or an oil-fired stove. As homes in rural areas were modernized, based on the owner's available income, they would first be electrified to allow for lighting. Electricity then meant that oil stoves with blowers could be installed, making for a much warmer house in the winter. Electricity also meant that the homeowner could install an electric pump to pressurize water, whichin turn meant that flush toilets and showers were possible, and thata refrigerator could be installed. Suddenly, cutting ice from the lakein mid-winter and transporting it home to fill the icehouse was a thing of the past. The icebox could be moved to the barn to gather dust, and the shiny new refrigerator moved into the kitchen.

The Heritage Society moved the house by separating the top floor from the bottom just below the floor joists. The top section was reasonably structurally sound but the bottom section, especially the sills and floor joists, was badly decayed. The Society replaced much of the floor and lower sections of the walls. Simple lighting and a pressurized water system have been installed and the birthing room converted into  small telephone exchange. In the Lake Charlotte area hand crank phones were used until 1975, and the local telephone exchange was in a private home staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by two resident operators.

The icehouse and out house complete the range of domestic "appliances" commonduring the 1940s.

When visiting the homestead take time to sit in the parlour and listento the radio. The Heritage Society commissioned the compilation of radio highlights covering the entire decade.

Irvin Webber Barn c.1930

The Irvin Webber barn and homestead were originally located in Oyster Pond with almost exactly the same spacing and positioning as they have now. The older, c.1930, main part of the barn, measures 18' x 29', while the lean-to, which is 14' x 27', was added later. Both sections are simply constructed and, reflecting the small holdingnature of farming on the Eastern Shore, quite small in comparison to barns in better agricultural areas.

Based on the interior configuration of the building when it was acquiredby the Heritage Society, a wooden floor was installed in the main section along with a stall for a horse and cow, plus a pig pen and chicken coop. The lean-to has a dirt floor and houses the tractor and its implements. It is interesting to note that the lean-to uses almost all recycled lumber ranging from hand-hewn posts to painted boards.

The barn is a good example of the transition which took place between 1940 and 1950 with substantial tools and equipment from the era o fthe horse, alongside the "modern" 1949 International Farmall Cub tractor.

Irvin Webber Icehouse

Preserving food was a major concern for people living before the time of electrical refrigeration. While some families kept their milk and other perishables in the well during the warmer months,the icebox was also a common "appliance" in many kitchens.

- Gathering Ice in February

The Irvin Webber Icehouse is mostly a new construction topped by a rescued roof from an Irvin Webber shed in oyster pond.The building features a double wall construction filled with sawdust insulation. Blocks of ice cut from the lake during midwinter were packed into the icehouse between layers of sawdust. Each day a new block was taken out, carefully washed and placed in the kitchen'smetal-lined icebox. The cold from the ice the dropped down over the perishable foods stored in the compartment below. The icebox is nowregulated to the barn, as a new electric refrigerator graces the homestead kitchen.

During the 1940s ice houses allowed families and businesses to storeice through the summer. Not every household had one, as many were replacedby refrigerators, while other families used the well to store perishables like milk and butter. Ice houses have a double wall construction anduse sawdust for insulation. Every February, the Heritage Society volunteers get together for an ice cutting party. Once the ice is thick enough (at least 20 cm. or 8 in.) the ice is cut into cubes, lifted from thefreezing waters, and transported to the ice house. There it is packed n sawdust for insulation. In the summer the ice is used in the Cookhouse ice box and usually lasts until late August. When you visit, be sureto push your hand down through the sawdust until you feel the cold damp sawdust surrounding the ice blocks