Last wooden bridge in Prov.

Architectural plan and elevation of North Freight Station, by Thomas Tefft.

Plan and elevation of North Freight Station, by Thomas Tefft. (Historic American Buildings Survey)

In an excellent online post for the Providence Journal, photographer Sandor Bodo notes the demise and, more recently, the removal of the last wooden river bridge in Providence. It is called “Documenting the fall of Providence’s last wooden river bridge,” and includes a video that shows its demolition in December and many historical photographs.

Sandor interviews Rick Greenwood, the late historian at the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, about the role the 40-foot bridge – the Railroad Crossing Street Bridge, which tee’d at Canal Street – played along the Moshassuck River. The bridge was built in 1856 and is seen in photos of Rhode Island troops marching off to join the Union cause in 1861, not to mention shots of the activity around the rail yard nearby, with commerce centering at the brick North Freight Station, built in 1847, that burned down in the early 1980s. Like the Union Depot also built in 1847 but razed and then replaced by Union Station in the late 1890s, the warehouse that lived so much longer than its more well remembered brother was designed by Thomas Tefft, who died very young.

The post by Sandor and his collaboration with Rick are “must-see TV” for Providence history and transportation buffs. I doff my cap to Lee Juskalian for sending it.

I used to regularly riffle past an engrossing photo of the North Freight Station on fire as I searched over three decades through the Journal’s photo archives. The closest I’ve come online are the two images here, one atop this post of the freight warehouse’s design by Tefft, and the other, below, of land cleared along North Main Street for the Roger Williams Memorial Park east of Canal Street, the foreground of which includes the warehouse in a dilapidated condition not long before it burned down.

[I just thought of taking screen shots of Sandor’s video, which I post below.]

Tefft freight station in foreground, near Canal Street. (

Tefft freight station in foreground, near Canal Street.

Archival photo of Tefft's North Freight Station. (

Archival photo of Tefft’s North Freight Station. (

Map shows bridge near Cove Basin. (John Hutchins Cady)

Map shows Rail Road Crossing Street Bridge near Cove Basin. (John Hutchins Cady)

Rail Road Crossing Street Bridge, with Tefft warehouse in background. (

RR Crossing Street Bridge, with (I believe) Tefft warehouse in background. (

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Architecture History, Book/Film Reviews, Development, Preservation, Providence, Urbanism and planning and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Last wooden bridge in Prov.

  1. Steve Lindsey says:

    Sad there is so little interest in our industrial past… The older photographs reveal a vibrant society, the present ones an affluent but indifferent one.


    • Very well put, Lindsey. And as you suggest, we are a wealthier society and a wealthier world today than 100 years ago. There is a LOT more money sloshing around. The idea that we can’t afford to build beautiful classical buildings today is a very leaky argument. I think one reason we’re so indifferent today is that we’ve tuned out almost the entire visible world – manmade, not nature – because it turns us off … literally.


  2. Tim Lehnert says:

    sure we’re on tim



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