The fate of the 100-year-old stone bridge in Bever Park in Cedar Rapids was in doubt as city leaders considered taking down or moving the dilapidated structure. The bridge had to be gated off for safety purposes because the bridge deck and footings were crumbling.
The bridge spanning a small creek hadn’t been used as a crossing in years, but it served as a backdrop for pictures and an architectural reminder of the past.
In fall 2017, park supporters and historic preservation advocates pushed back as word spread that the bridge’s future was in doubt, saying it would be the latest erosion of the park’s history. The response prompted city officials to declare the bridge would not be removed, but it was not clear who would lead the pricey effort to restore the bridge.
What’s happened since
The Friends of Cedar Rapids Historic Preservation has taken up the challenge of restoring the Bever Bridge. The total cost is estimated at $165,000, according to the group.
The city has committed 25 percent, or about $41,000, of the total cost of the bridge restoration, and the Friends group is kicking off a private fundraising campaign for the remaining cost, said Tim Oberbroeckling, a member of the group.
“Rich in history, this bridge is one example of the stone work done in the 1920s,” the Friends group wrote on its website. “The bridge’s construction was built by hand and was extremely well constructed and has stood the test of time as one of the original stone features found in Bever Park.”
The goal of the restoration is to protect the side walls, which remain in relatively good shape, while removing and replacing the deck, according to the group. A new platform or deck with brand-new footings will be constructed, and then the side walls will “very carefully” be reattached, Oberbroeckling said.
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“For historic purposes, it’s important that as much of the bridge as possible stays intact for its historical significance,” according to the group. “The walls of the bridge will be cleaned and tuck pointed. When the restoration process is complete we will have a piece of history that will live on for another 100 years for our future generations to enjoy as past generations did.”
Donations can be made on the group’s website through PayPal; through the GoFundMe website by searching “Cedar Rapids Bever Park Bridge Restoration”; or by mail to Friends of CR Historic Preservation, PO Box 1062, Cedar Rapids, IA 52406, Attention: Bever Park Bridge Fundraiser.
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