December 5, 2022 – Townshend Historical Society Awarded Save America’s Treasures Grant
Townshend Historical Society has been awarded a grant of $221,000 from the Save America’s Treasures program through the Historic Preservation Fund. It is being administered by the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior. Together with a matching sum raised by the Historical Society and Town of Townshend, the grant will partly fund restoration of the West Townshend Stone Arch Bridge.
The West Townshend Stone Arch Bridge carries Back Windham Road across Tannery Brook at the east edge of West Townshend village. Local farmer and self-taught stone mason James Otis Follett constructed the bridge in 1910. With its span of 37 feet, it holds the distinction of being the longest dry stone arch bridge built by Follett in Townshend and the last bridge that he built before his death in 1911. While its arch remains structurally sound and it continues to carry local traffic, erosion over the years caused by runoff, freezing and thawing, and, more recently, use by heavy vehicles, has caused serious structural damage to its foundation and walls.
The restoration process will be carried out by a team of certified drystone masons using the same masonry techniques as the original builder. The project’s goals are to preserve one of the town’s historic treasures and to give the bridge another hundred years of useful life. The total cost of the project, slated to begin in spring of 2024, is estimated at $ 800,000. $ 550,000 has been raised to date.
Questions and comments about the Save America’s Treasures grant, the project, and continued fundraising may be directed to Townshend Historical Society, firstname.lastname@example.org or PO Box 202, Townshend, VT 05353.
For more information about the West Townshend Stone Arch Bridge and Townshend’s five other stone arch bridges go to www.townshendvt.org .