Cool Enclosure: Customers chill out in Tony Harper ice-house

Pictured are some stages of the ice house construction at Tony Harper's in Old Forge, from chainsawing the ice blocks (Dave Schneesberger), to shaping them from the inside (Chris Murphy). In the middle photo is Lisa Murphy, owner of Tony Harper's Pizza and Clam Shack. Photos by Carol Hansen

In an effort to extend her customers’ enjoyment of the outside bar at Tony Harper’s Pizza and Clam Shack on Main Street, Old Forge, owner Lisa Murphy suggested to her husband Don that they enclose the area in ice and keep it open for snowmobilers. 

Don, owner of D.E. Murphy Constructors, Inc., builder of Tony Harper’s and designer of its iconic tower, accepted the challenge and immediately began research on ways to construct the ice house. 

Once he came up with a plan, he contracted with Gary Evans of Clayville Ice, a Utica-area company that has a long history of building coolers and delivering ice to the Adirondacks, to make and deliver over 1,500 pounds of blocked ice.

Then, a large cast of characters joined in the construction process. Jim Dillon and Lance Pierson of Raquette Lake Supply, who are instrumental in keeping the Raquette Lake ice harvesting tradition alive, lended their tools and ice cutting expertise.

And volunteers Timmy Bolton and Bill Wanamaker joined D.E. Murphy construction personnel Chris Murphy and Dave Schneesberger in the building process.

“Luckily, we recently opened a construction office here in Old Forge, so we had the heavy equipment, such as a backhoe, and the manpower to make it happen,” Lisa said.

Lisa said the construction was a “traffic stopper”, and now that the ice house is open, it’s become quite an attraction.

“We’re having some fun with it and have even made shot glasses out of ice. People seem to really like it. The other night some people started singing out there and their voices just echoed through. They really sounded good,” Lisa said.

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