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The Home Ice Company building, located at 700 Cate Avenue in Jonesboro (Craighead County), is an early twentieth-century industrial structure that has been associated with various industries. The building was first home to a wagon factory, then a peanut processing plant, then an ice cream manufacturing facility, and finally an ice plant. The businesses occupying the building over the years have provided jobs and products for the local community and for communities abroad. In June 2017, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places; it was announced the next month that the building would be demolished.
Around 1910, the Jonesboro Wagon Manufacturing Company, the only maker of farm wagons in Jonesboro, constructed a new two-story exterior brick structure, built with twelve-inch-thick walls covering a wood frame interior. In the early 1910s, the company went out of business, and the Jonesboro Peanut Hulling Company purchased the two-story brick building in 1913. The company operated only one year, and in 1919, A. J. Scott, owner of the Jonesboro Coca-Cola Bottling Company, purchased the building and began to sell ice and ice cream. Ice cream was already popular in town, and several downtown drugstore soda fountains, such as Chases Refined Refreshments on Main Street and Latourette’s Bakery at Main and Huntington, served it.
A. J. Scott hired architect H. A. Lesmeister to conduct extensive remodeling of the building, including the construction of the one-story Spanish Colonial Revival addition on the main façade. Lesmeister was a highly respected commercial architect in northeastern Arkansas who had already designed several buildings in downtown Jonesboro and Pocahontas (Randolph County). This remodeling included the installation of $75,000 worth of new machinery to manufacture Scott’s Velvet Ice Cream.
When the plant opened in 1920, the Jonesboro Daily Tribune touted the new factory as “the most modern ice cream plant in the State of Arkansas.” Scott soon had trucks that made commercial deliveries and home deliveries on Sundays and produced special flavors including pineapple, orange, pistachio, peach, strawberry, and cherry nut ice cream along with orange, pineapple, and cherry sherbets and Eskimo Pies.
By the end of the 1920s, Scott faced economic troubles, and in 1927, the Bank of Jonesboro took possession of the A. J. Scott Ice Cream Company, which then went through various owners and operators in the 1930s. Mavrick Cook, who worked there as a teenager, took over the Home Ice Company following his military service in World War II, providing ice to area businesses even as the home ice industry declined with the eventual ubiquity of the home refrigerator/freezer.
Following a 1973 tornado, Cook traveled in his freezer truck to local grocery stores that were without power and transported their items for storage at the Home Ice Company. In 1978, the Rosse family rented the property and business, finally purchasing it in 1980. However, the Home Ice Company officially closed its doors around 2014, and the next year, the City of Jonesboro officially declared the Home Ice Company building to be condemned. On June 5, 2017, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and that same year, Preservation Arkansas nominated it as one of the most endangered historic resources in the state. Also in June 2017, a judge dismissed an appeal of the condemnation, allowing demolition of the structure to proceed according to the City of Jonesboro’s timeframe.
For additional information:
“A. J. Scott Ice Cream Co. Plant Nearly Ready.” Jonesboro Daily Tribune, May 8, 1920.
“A. J. Scott Sells Coca-Cola Business to Georgia Man.” Jonesboro Weekly Sun, February 7, 1923.
Embry, Neal. “Former Home Ice Owner, Central Baptist Charter Member Cook Passes Away at 99.” Jonesboro Sun, August 28, 2017, pp. 1A–2A.
“Home Ice Company.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/CG0350_nr.pdf (accessed September 19, 2017).
Salo, Edward, Noah Brewer, James Fox, Ismail Moufdi, Lindsey Penn, Renee Pinkston, and Mary Sitzer. “The Home Ice Company, Jonesboro Arkansas.” Craighead County Historical Quarterly 55 (July 2017): 3–10.
Arkansas State University
Last Updated 9/19/2017
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