Ice house makes an interesting feature to Carson home | NevadaAppeal.com

Ice house makes an interesting feature to Carson home

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Denis Budge talks about the 19th century ice house in the back yard of her Carson City home on Tuesday. She and her husband, Mike, believe it was used by the Pony Express in Carson City, which dates it to 1860.
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Mike and Denis Budge date the ice house on their property to the time when Pony Express riders came through Carson City.

If they’re right, that makes the rectangular 5-by-7-foot building about 146 years old.

The Pony Express stopped in Carson City from April 1860 to November 1861. It was the relative of a former owner who told the Budges that the ice house was used by the riders, who stopped at the Pony Express station on the corner across from the house, where the Nugget Motel stands now.

“We tried to save this because we were tearing down everything else,” said Denis Budge. “What we wanted to achieve was to keep as much of the history as possible.”

The original home at 503 E. Spear St. was owned by Daisy Crow. It wasn’t in the best shape by the time the Budges bought the property in the early 1990s. There was one place in the house where you could look straight through a hole in the wall and see the Carson Nugget, Denis Budge said. Three different contractors advised the Budges that it could not be renovated to modern standards.

“When we tore down the house, we found Chinese keno tickets drawn in Chinese and we found a letter dated back to 1890, so we know (the ice house) was at least 150 years old,” she said.

They fit a new Victorian-style house on the lot and also fitted Denis’ salon into a back room. The ice house, which was used to store meats, vegetables and ice in the days before refrigeration, sits beside the Budges’ new home.

Inside the cement-and-brick building is a drawer with a screen for vegetables, and several high shelves. Two metal prongs remain where meat would’ve been hung. The heavy wood door is about six inches thick.

The wood-shingle roof is believed to have been repaired later because the nails have round heads.

The rusted metal handle and lock was forged by a blacksmith, Mike Budge said.

Mike Budge, the former warden at Nevada State Prison, said they often dug up artifacts from Carson City’s earlier era in the backyard, such as opium bottles and porcelain figures. He’s a history buff who collects wagon wheels, ore cars and rail track.

The historic home was demolished, but the Budges saved more than just the ice house. They saved all the original vegetation, including a 100-year-old snowball bush and an apple tree planted by Crow, Denis Budge said.

Denis Budge said this home was in a “working-class neighborhood,” and she was able to find the home in a map dated from the early 1860s.

The Budges are leaving soon to retire in a scenic area of Oregon.

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.