Ice house comes down as urban renewal heats up|[10/10/06]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A longtime downtown ice house is being torn down to make way for what Vicksburg officials say may be an expanded playground.

The Holiday Ice Company at the northern end of Mulberry Street east of Art Park at Catfish Row, was a fixture for generations, selling bulk ice to the public and to river commerce.

Buildings on the site also housed liquor stores during Mississippi’s prohibition era, during which Louisiana whiskey could be sold legally with state &#8220black market” licenses. The site also joins that of LD’s Kitchen, 1111 Mulberry St.

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The city bought the whole tract as part of its urban-renewal project and plans for the land fit in with an overall redevelopment to include static display of the MV Mississippi, a Corps of Engineers museum and a rail, transportation museum in the Levee Street Depot, which the city also owns, and the City Front murals.

LD’s continues to operate as a city tenant, while its future is in question.

A decision was made to have city workers go ahead with a demolition of the ice building. It was prompted in part by this past weekend’s all-class reunion of the former Carr Central High School, Mayor Laurence Leyens said. The reunion drew about 500 people and included a mural-dedication ceremony within about 50 yards of the demolition site.

Holiday Ice Company was owned and operated by the late Henry Harrel until about the mid-to-late 1980s.

&#8220Henry built it” years earlier, his wife, Lucy Harrel, said.

Holiday Ice grew to have one of the largest ice-distributing territories in the state, with ice being delivered as far away as Brookhaven, Crystal Springs and Hazlehurst, Harrel said.

The city bought the property from Lucy Harrel for $84,448. That purchase was part of about $5 million in debt financing it devoted to an attempt to revitalize the area, including a makeover of Washington Street downtown.

Larry Prentiss said negotiations between him and city officials were continuing Monday.

&#8220I’m hoping to work with the city and remain there,” Prentiss said of his business’ current location, where it has operated for 11 years.

Earlier this year, Prentiss bought the former KFC building at 2600 Halls Ferry Road from Hannon Food Service and announced plans to begin a Cajun and soul-food restaurant there. The city board in February characterized that plan as one to move LD’s.

Prentiss said Monday, however, that his plan for a Halls Ferry Road restaurant is an independent project.

Prentiss added that he hopes to open a restaurant in the former KFC building &#8220very soon.”

Bennie Cosby of the Street Department was on a backhoe helping complete demolition of the ice house Monday. He said the demolition was to include all but the concrete on which the building stood and that it was expected to be complete by about midweek.