Celebration set for historic bridge in Holmesburg


Pennsylvania leads the na­tion in fail­ing bridges with more than one-quarter of its 22,000 aging road­way spans clas­si­fied as struc­tur­ally de­fi­cient.

But at least one Pennsylvania bridge has en­dured the test of time.

Frank­ford Av­en­ue’s Pennypack Creek Bridge is con­sidered the na­tion’s old­est road­way bridge in con­tinu­ous use. On Sat­urday, Oct. 13, Holmes­burg area com­munity lead­ers will host a cel­eb­ra­tion of the 315-year-old stone arch struc­ture to co­in­cide with the ded­ic­a­tion of a new Pennsylvania His­tor­ic­al Mark­er there.

Speak­ing at the Septem­ber meet­ing of the Up­per Holmes­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation, loc­al his­tor­i­an Fred Moore in­vited the whole com­munity to at­tend the free fest­iv­al from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the bridge on Frank­ford Av­en­ue just south of Ash­burn­er Street.

“Sev­en­teen thou­sand cars a day cross that bridge and this is 315 years [after it was built],” Moore said. “There’s noth­ing across the coun­try with those cre­den­tials.”

The bridge has been in con­tinu­ous use since its 1697 com­ple­tion, his­tor­i­ans say. It is per­haps most cel­eb­rated for its con­tri­bu­tions to the suc­cess of the Amer­ic­an Re­volu­tion.

The bridge served as a key link on the Kings High­way, a 1,300-mile route between Bo­ston and Char­le­ston, S.C., that served dur­ing Co­lo­ni­al times as a mer­chant and post road, then as a mil­it­ary trans­port and sup­ply route dur­ing the re­volu­tion.

The total length of the bridge, in­clud­ing ap­proaches, is 154 feet. The abut­ments are 73 feet apart. Its three arches rise 25, 25 and 13 feet.

The Oct. 13 pro­gram will be­gin with a ce­re­mo­ni­al march across the bridge, which will be closed to traffic from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Moore said.

The en­su­ing fest­iv­it­ies will in­clude his­tor­ic­al present­a­tions about Co­lo­ni­al times and the area’s Nat­ive Amer­ic­an in­flu­ences, ex­hib­its, en­vir­on­ment­al present­a­tions, as well as fam­ily ori­ented en­ter­tain­ment and activ­it­ies. Or­gan­izers will sell Holmes­burg his­tory cal­en­dars for $5 each to help off­set the cost of the event. Cal­en­dars will also be avail­able at The Din­ing Car, 8826 Frank­ford Ave.

Call 215-624-6614 or e-mail pennypack­bridge@gmail.com for in­form­a­tion.

In oth­er Up­per Holmes­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation Busi­ness:

• City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on an­nounced that ne­go­ti­ations are con­tinu­ing in the sale of the former Lid­don­field Homes prop­erty. The Phil­adelphia Hous­ing Au­thor­ity board has agreed to sell the 32-acre tract to a re­devel­op­ment group that will con­vert it in­to a new Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity cam­pus as well as hous­ing for low-in­come seni­ors.

Hen­on fur­ther re­por­ted that the Holmes­burg Lib­rary at Frank­ford and Har­tel av­en­ues will close later this month for roof re­pairs and oth­er ex­ter­i­or work. The work is ex­pec­ted to take three weeks to com­plete.

• Paul DeFinis, the UHCA zon­ing chair­man, re­por­ted that North­east Treat­ment Cen­ters — the or­gan­iz­a­tion that tried un­suc­cess­fully to es­tab­lish a meth­adone clin­ic on Frank­ford Av­en­ue in Holmes­burg — is pro­pos­ing to open a sim­il­ar fa­cil­ity at 7520 and 7550 State Road.

North­east sent a let­ter to the civic as­so­ci­ation alert­ing the neigh­bor­hood group to its plans. DeFinis and UHCA pres­id­ent Stan Cy­w­in­ski agreed to con­sult with the neigh­bor­ing Holmes­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation and oth­er af­fected groups be­fore re­spond­ing to the pro­pos­al.

• The next UHCA meet­ing will be on Thursday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m., at St. Domin­ic’s Mari­an Hall, 8532 Frank­ford Ave. ••End­Frag­ment 

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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