When we wrote about Joseph Lamport last week, we mentioned his grandfather, George Lamport. The Lamport family were Orthodox Jews – George and Ida Lamport and their children belonged to the Bas HaKnesses Anshe Sfard synagogue at 216 Cumberland Ave. in Portland. According to Jay Lamport, “My father’s grandfather George was president of that congregation at one time, as was my father’s father, Jacob. My parents remained members of that synagogue until around the year 1955.”

A crew of men send ice blocks up the conveyor, to be stored in the icehouse of City Ice & Coal Company at Wild Rose Park (now known as Hinckley Park). South Portland Historical Society photo

Let’s take a look at George Lamport and his family, all of whom were involved in the Lamport ice and coal businesses.

George and Ida Lamport were the first generation of their family in America. George was born in 1867 in Belarus (which was then part of the Russian Empire). He made the journey to the United States around 1895, followed by Ida in 1900 who came with their children Jacob “Jake,” Reuben “Ralph,” and Sarah. One can only imagine the bravery of coming to this land so far away and building a new life.

The family first settled in a tenement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, home to a large number of Jewish immigrants. While George and Ida were in New York, they had two more children, Henry and Sylvia.

By roughly 1908, George and his family had resettled in Portland on Munjoy Hill, in an area with many other Jewish families. The Lamport family moved several times in those first few years, living in apartments on Vine Street, Newbury Street, Hampshire Street and Hancock Street. George found various jobs to pay the bills, working as a laborer, in a livery stable, and as a milk dealer.

By 1913, George had founded the Deering Ice Company at 143 Newbury St. in Portland. In November, 1913, the company signed a 10-year lease for a 45-acre strip of land along the Royal River in Yarmouth, giving them the rights to construct an ice house, along with the exclusive rights to cut ice along that section of the Royal River. The land was adjacent to the railroad tracks, allowing them a means of easily transporting ice to Portland.


George Lamport’s son-in-law, Abraham Rosenbloom, harvesting ice from the pond at Wild Rose Park. South Portland Historical Society photo

Unfortunately, they had trouble from the start. When it came time for the first ice cutting in February, 1914, they were challenged in court by Albert Sands of Yarmouth, who had also leased the rights to cut ice along that section of the river.

In November, 1914, Deering Ice signed yet another lease with the same land owner. In this nine-year lease, the owner acknowledged that Deering Ice had already constructed one ice house on the property, gave them the right to build a second ice house, and the rights for ice cutting contained a more detailed description of exactly where they were allowed to cut ice on the river.

George and Ida’s oldest son Jake was active in the business from the start. His brothers, Ralph and Henry, would also become active in the business as they grew older.

In March, 1915, George and Ida’s daughter Sarah married Abraham Rosenbloom. Abraham also joined the Lamports in the operation of Deering Ice Company.

In 1918, George and Jake Lamport, father and son, are now shown as partners in Deering Ice Company. They leased land from Frederick Hinckley at “Wild Rose Park” (land at the end of Wild Rose Avenue, now known as Hinckley Park) on which they were given the rights to build an ice house and harvest ice. Interestingly, the 20-year lease also stipulates that Deering Ice would “agree to keep the said Frederick W. Hinckley supplied with such ice as he desires for domestic purposes at the place where he now resides, and especially to keep his refrigerator supplied with ice and to put the ice in said refrigerator.”

Jake Lamport’s son-in-law, Abe Green, harvesting ice from the pond. South Portland Historical Society photo

On a mortgage obtained by Deering Ice in 1919, Abraham Rosenbloom was now listed as a partner with George and Jake. Ralph Lamport had also become very active in the business. The mortgage has a great description of the assets of Deering Ice at Wild Rose Park at that point in time: “One certain dark bay mare and one dark bay horse…two dark bay horses…one black horse…two sets of double sleds; one set of single sleds; two express wagons; four ice wagons; two lumber wagons; five sets of double harnesses; two sets of single harnesses; one Fairbanks platform scale; one safe; three snow scrapers; seven ice chissels [sic] and bars; two ice plows; also…two certain Garford motor trucks used by us in connection with the business of said Deering Ice Co.”


In July, 1920, George Lamport bought a home on Walnut Street in South Portland; the Lamport family moved there and the office of Deering Ice was now located in their home. In November, 1921, Deering Ice purchased the Broadway Garage at 410 Broadway in South Portland. The company would sometimes utilize the former garage as an office and would store and sell ice from the building, as well. They also leased office space in several different buildings on Ocean Street over the years

Deering Ice Company bought the Broadway Garage at 410 Broadway in 1921. The Lamports would later use the building as the sales office for City Ice & Coal. South Portland Historical Society photo

In 1924, the Lamports looked to expand the operation of Deering Ice with another ice cutting operation in Falmouth Foreside. In November, 1924, the company purchased two lots of land totaling about 41 acres on the Johnson Road (and acquired an adjacent 14-acre lot the following year). The land purchases were funded in part by the sellers and, along with significant funding from Philip Blumenthal, Deering Ice constructed a large ice house that could accommodate roughly 36,000 blocks of ice (250-pound blocks). A natural pond on the property was enlarged to produce more ice.

Disaster was ahead for the company, however.

In March, 1926, with Abraham Rosenbloom now acting as president and George Lamport as its treasurer, Deering Ice borrowed money to help with finances, and put up everything as collateral for the loan – the ice houses in South Portland and Falmouth, all of the equipment and inventory at both locations, their building on Broadway, and George Lamport’s home on Walnut Street. Eight months later, they were unable to satisfy the loan requirements. The loan was foreclosed upon, they lost everything, and Deering Ice was officially declared bankrupt.

A 1932 advertisement for City Ice & Coal Company. Courtesy image

Rising from this incredible loss, the Lamport family started a new company – City Ice Company. The new company had George’s sons listed as its officers – Henry was president, Jake was vice president and Ralph was treasurer – although George himself and Abraham were still very much involved in the business. They started cutting ice again, this time at Ingalls Pond in Baldwin (west of Sebago Lake) and Wild Rose Park (Hinckley) in South Portland. In 1928, City Ice Company bought back both the Wild Rose Park property and the building at 410 Broadway.

Also around 1928, the company changed its name to City Ice & Coal Company (sometimes also referred to by locals as the City Ice & Fuel Company). This was an important transition in the business. The seasonality of selling ice held tremendous challenges. Adding sales of fuel oil, range oil and coal meant that they could even out their sales throughout the year.


A major threat for any ice cutting operation was the threat of fire. The Lamports had another disaster in 1935 when they lost their ice house in South Portland. According to the Portland Press Herald on July 29, 1935: “A spectacular two alarm fire destroyed the ice house of the City Ice and Fuel Company in the Wildrose Park section of South Portland early this morning. The blaze was visible for miles and attracted several hundred persons to the scene. Firemen, forced to lay hose lines a distance of a quarter of a mile along a dirt road, had difficulty getting streams on the blazing building. The fire fed rapidly on the hay used as packing for the ice stored in some sections of the building and the walls were falling in little more than a half hour after the first alarm. Sparks fell as much as a quarter of a mile from the building and officials said that a serious woods fire might have been started if the woods in the vicinity had not been damp. As the walls began to fall in, melting cakes of ice slipped from the building with a loud hiss of steam which resembled minor explosions. The building was 400 feet long and 77 feet wide.”

The Lamport family quickly rebuilt the ice house, but had to wait until the next winter to start cutting and storing ice again.

George Lamport retired around 1943 and left the operation of the company to his sons. He and Ida moved to Dorchester, Massachusetts, where he died in 1949.

An article in the Press Herald in 1951, gave an excellent description of the City Ice & Coal operation at Wildrose/Hinckley: “The ice cut Friday was 11 inches thick. Ice firms like to hold up cutting until it is 14 inches. It fits the iceboxes better, generally. It will take Lamport’s crew of 40 men five days to cut and store 5,000 tons of ice in the huge icehouse. Ice cutting like everything else has changed over the years. Modern equipment such as a power saw has replaced the backbreaking job of cutting by hand. Crewmen feed the cakes to the conveyor which quickly moves them up to the icehouse openings. A crew of five experienced men hook the cakes as they speed down a ramp in the icehouse to direct and store it compactly. The vertical conveyor is raised to meet the height of the top layer of ice in storage. The door opening is closed as the conveyor is raised…only 10 percent of it is lost by melting.”

In June, 1953, City Ice & Coal sold its 410 Broadway office to Ridge Oil. Jake Lamport’s grandson, Gary Nathanson, gave more details about the end of the business: “When the City Ice and Coal Co. business disbanded in 1955 (thanks to refrigerators), the Lamport brothers divided up the remaining assets and Jake ended up with the land. For us kids, he had the upper pond stocked with speckled trout and we used to fish there.”

In November, 1972, the 17.8-acre property was taken by eminent domain and became part of the now 40-acre Hinckley Park.

If you have photographs or other information to share about South Portland’s past, we would love to hear from you. South Portland Historical Society can be reached at 207-767-7299, by email at sphistory04106@gmail.com, or by mail at 55 Bug Light Park, South Portland, ME 04106.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is executive director of the South Portland Historical Society. She can be reached at sphistory04106@gmail.com.

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