black & white floorpan of Bulfinch building's first floor with a red circles around room "E" and corresponding text in the key; "E Ice Room & Cold Storage"

Ice room and cold storage, 1872

Although we know that this area was earmarked for cold storage, we don’t have much more information than that! Until the early 20th century, most refrigeration was accomplished through the storage and preservation of large blocks of ice. William Cullen, a Scottish physician, first demonstrated artificial refrigeration in 1748 by boiling diethyl ether in a partial vacuum. Sharp observers will note that this same compound was used in the first successful public demonstration of surgical anesthesia on October 16, 1846.