This press release is from Preservation Massachusetts…
The Railings on Echo Bridge have been named one of Massachusetts Most Endangered Historic Resources. Since 1993, this list has been compiled and published by Preservation Massachusetts, the statewide nonprofit historic preservation advocacy organization.
Echo Bridge is an iconic barrel vault bridge built in 1876 to carry the Sudbury Aqueduct over the Charles River, spanning from Newton into Needham. Its handsome granite and brick design contributes to the rugged beauty of Hemlock Gorge State Park and Echo Bridge is a popular and well utilized community asset. Many area citizens walk on the pedestrian promenade atop the bridge which is graced by ornamental cast iron railings. The railings serve as an important interaction point between the pedestrian and the bridge. However, the railings are currently over 140 years old, and unfortunately are dilapidated and unsafe.
Previous attempts to fix the railings have not been successful and have hastened the deterioration of the historic railings and posts. Currently, a new code-compliant interior railing has been installed, allowing the promenade to remain open with the original railing tethered to the outside of the new railing and inaccessible to the public. At a future date, when the historic railings and posts are restored , the new code-compliant interior railing can be removed, and its panels can be incorporated into the historic railings, thus making the restored historic railings both code compliant and available for public access.
The bridge’s owner, the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority, has been working with the Echo Bridge Railing Committee and others to raise the necessary $1.5 million to restore the railings. A collaborative and positive partnership is essential in this endeavor as the bridge spans two communities. Advocates in the local community hope that raising awareness will help a strong case for funding the restoration of the railings, which will honor the original bridge design.
Jim Igoe, President of Preservation Massachusetts feels strongly about the Echo Bridge Railings. “The beautiful Echo Bridge is very important to the residents of Newton and Needham. The railings of the bridge will be lost in the very near future if a strong public/private partnership isn’t accomplished. A key to the success is a good working relationship between the community and the bridge owners, as evidenced by the collaboration up until this point. We are hopeful that we can assist in making the case for funding the restoration of these important elements of the bridge.”
Ruthanne Fuller, Mayor of Newton, conveys local support for the bridge and the railings. “Echo Bridge is extraordinary. We treasure the design, special materials and workmanship of the bridge, set in this quiet and beautiful location linking Newton and Needham. Plus, it has important associations with the development of major water systems serving America’s growing population in the late nineteenth century,” says Mayor of the City of Newton, Ruthanne Fuller. “While a modern fence provides safe passage across the bridge, this designation as an endangered historic resource is a big assist in the efforts of the Echo Bridge Railings Committee as it brings together residents, non-profits, and government agencies to raise awareness to reconstruct the historic ornamental cast iron railings atop the bridge that are integral to its 1876 design” she adds.
The other endangered resources listed in 2018 are: Arlington High School (Arlington), Attleboro Switch Tower (Attleboro), JR Alley Brewery (Mission Hill, Boston), The Pillars & The Columns (Dennis), Calf Pasture Pump House (Dorchester), Clinton Church (Great Barrington), GAR Hall (Lynn), Historic Stonewalls (Massachusetts), and Town Hall & Auditorium (New Salem).
The 2018 Massachusetts Most Endangered Historic Resources list will be publicly recognized at the Believe in Preservation event, hosted this year at the Nixon Peabody LLP, 100 Summer Street, Boston on November 7th. For more event details, and more information on the Massachusetts Most Endangered Historic Resources Program, visit www.preservationmass.org or call 617-723-3383