818 Ernest Avenue
Silsbee, TX 77656
Silsbee, TX 77656
|Wednesday - Friday||10:30 AM - 3 PM|
|Saturday||9:30 AM - 2 PM|
On September 12, 1991, the Ice House received an historical designation from the Texas Historical Commission. With the help of volunteers and donations, the badly deteriorating building was restored to a usable condition, and the volunteers began to acquire permanent works of art and historical pieces for display. To exhibit the artwork, these volunteers designed a fine art gallery where exhibitions continue to draw art lovers year round. It has featured the works of notable artists such as Rev. Tom K. Simms, Sparky Balla, Betty Iles, Robynna Prescott, Jerry Newman, Roger Ratliff, Goldie Winger, and Kim Allen. Included in their permanent collection are works by the late Maudee Carron, Bucky Milam, Peggy Osborne, Frank Gerriets, Lynn Sweat and Frank White. Recently, the Ice House accepted a generous donation from the City of Silsbee's Economic Development Corporation for renovations. Seeing the enthusiasm of its current board of directors and their plans for a variety of future events, the City believed it would be a worthwhile project. The Ice House now has a newly leveled and finished floor in its lower section which has added 2,000 square feet of usable space to accommodate group meetings, workshops, historical acquisition displays, and a variety of other activities. A new handicap access ramp has been installed as well as new windows and doors. The walls and ceiling have been painted, a new kitchen area installed to provide a refreshment preparation area, and a new entry walk has been added. All of the construction has not slowed activities at the Ice House. Since the beginning of the year the Ice House has continued to present fine art shows with opening receptions. Joyce Philen was featured in January 2003 as a result of winning "Best of Show" at the 2002 artist competition, an annual event. Every February Black history is featured, and every March, the artwork of Silsbee's school children is put on display. Sponsored by the Performing and Visual Arts Council, this exhibit helps to encourage young artists. One of the more exciting events has been the summer art program for children. Silsbee's branch of Community Bank and Trust generously donated funds to establish "Kool Art for Kool Kids" in memory of Randy Stuart in 2002. We are grateful that Community Bank and Trust has agreed to sponsor the program again this year. The week long summer art program is taught by a certified teacher. Museum staff prepare for 40 children and have found it to be successful. The children have also enjoyed the "Make It and Take It" event presented by museum volunteers. Free of charge, this event allows the children in the area to visit and create craft projects during the annual Silsbee Public Library Festival held the first Saturday of each December. The museum has offered a number of programs for adults as well. Some include watercolor classes, photography classes and fine art appreciation lectures. The museum has recently received several donations to purchase easels and plans to offer drawing and painting classes to both children and adults by this fall. This past November the Ice House Museum participated in a very exciting event. Nationally underwritten by Daimler-Chrysler Corp., and locally sponsored by Mead-Westvaco, Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway, and the City of Silsbee Economic Development Corporation through the South East Texas Arts Council, ArtTrain USA arrived in Silsbee. ArtTrain USA is a five-car train that travels across the country presenting original works of art to communities that might not otherwise have the opportunity to view it. It featured artwork from the NASA art program and the Smithsonian Institute. According to the executive director of SETAC Regina Lindsey, the number of visitors was more than twice the usual number with more than 1,000 counted through the first day of its stay. The turnout was recorded as the second largest with only the first exhibit of Artrain surpassing. Artrain has promised to return in November 2004 with their next exhibit, a display of contemporary NativeAmerican art.
The Silsbee Ice House, located at Ernest Avenue, was erected by Gulf States Utilities in 1928. In 1943 ownership was transferred to H.C. Hopkins and C.F. Young. Later, Newton Hopkins took over for his father. At that time Ice House production was about 30,000 tons of ice a week. He later sold the company to Sparkle Ice Company. When refrigeration was invented, people no longer needed block ice for their ice boxes so demand slowed. The Ice House continued to produce ice, however, for recreational events and a variety of local companies. In 1983, the Ice House closed and remained unused until 1990.
Historical acquisitions include woodcraft items made by the late Gilbert Dominguez. Remembered as a particularly gifted woodworker, the local chapter of Eastern Star donated ten chairs made by him, and over the entry hangs a Santa Fe sign also made by him. Gilbert Dominguez passed away in July of 1991. A room dedicated to the old Ice House Company has been installed next to the art gallery. It includes photographs and diagrams of the interior and exterior of the facility during the days of operation, tools, an old wooden icebox, and a documentary video of an interview of Newt Hopkins describing the unique manufacture of ice. Our lower gallery includes a historical display of the Santa Fe Railway Company. Charles Lee, a retired trainmaster and railroad consultant, graciously donated his enviable collection of items including lanterns, maps, switch locks, timetables and photos. This windfall, combined with a few choice items already in the museum's collection, gives a historic perspective on the railroad that was essential to Silsbee's development. Soon, we hope to have a historical display of items from John Henry Kirby's sawmill.
We have only just begun to offer educational programming. So far the museum has provided an adult class in watercolor and another in photography as well as a fine art lecture. We held our second annual children's art program this past summer called Kool Art for Kool Kids. A certified instructor was contracted to teach a weeklong session on arts and crafts to nearly 40 children from 9 to 14 years of age. Two Lamar university Art Department students with a degree plan toward art education worked along side the instructor for experience and credit from Lamar University instructor Ann Matlock. We will begin guitar lessons as well as drawing and painting classes scheduled for this fall for both adult and children. In 2004 we plan to offer multi level classes in all forms of painting, and ceramics for adults and children as well as a variety of cultural programs which include floral arrangement, sewing, fishing, and story telling.
Our facility offers a quarterly newsletter describing our calendar of events, recent acquisitions and donations, and plans for special events. It is simply titled "Ice House News."
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