This bridge is noteworthy as an example of Luten bridge
technology in Michigan. As such, it is locally significant. Sadly, the
aesthetic qualities of this bridge were largely destroyed when the original
balustrade railings were removed from the bridge. This limits the value of
this bridge on a national scale. Preservation of this bridge could include
removing the existing railings and placing replications of the original
railings, which would bring this bridge back to glory as a noteworthy and
beautiful historic bridge. A historical postcard of the bridge with original
railings is shown below.
The American Legion Memorial Bridge qualifies for the National Register
as a significant memorial bridge and for its connection with Daniel
Luten, a prominent bridge engineer.
In 1929, the Traverse City
city commission ordered a public election to authorize the sale of bonds
to build new bridges over the Boardman River at South Union Street and
Cass Street. At the same time, the commission hired Daniel B. Luten, a
well-known Indianapolis bridge engineer who specialized in concrete-arch
design, to prepare plans for the Cass Street Bridge. Voters approved the
measure in May. In the meantime, the city learned that the state would
erect a bridge at South Union Street, so the city's efforts focused on
On 27 June 1929, the commission awarded a contract
for the bridge's construction to Aldrich and Cook and Jerome Wilhelm. A
few weeks later, the commission agreed to issue $50,000 worth of bonds
to pay for the project. In June 1930, the commission accepted the
contractors' work and authorized final payment. At the same time, the
commission decided to purchase dedication plaques at the request of the
American Legion for $100. There remained, however, a dispute about
additional payments between the city and H.E. Williams, the Michigan
agent for Luten. It is unclear how this was resolved.
removal of the original railings over the arch and the addition of the
Jersey barricades detract from the original design, the bridge remains
an important and rare example of the work of Daniel Luten in Michigan.
The bridge is also locally significant as a memorial bridge
commemorating the American Legion.
Cass Street crosses the
Boardman River just south of downtown Traverse City. The Cass Street
Bridge is situated in an attractive park. A dam is not far downstream to
the west; further west is the South Union Street Bridge. The span of the
Cass Street Bridge is a barrel-vaulted elliptical arch. The archivolt is
highlighted by a wide, slightly projecting course. Sidewalks extend
beyond the face of the arch, supported by concrete brackets. Railings on
the approaches to the bridge consist of curved solid-concrete parapets
and concrete balustrades with urn-shaped spindles. The original
balustrade railings on the bridge itself have been replaced by two
horizontal rows of timber planks. Concrete Jersey barricades separate
the sidewalk from the roadway. A bridge plate on the original northeast
parapet reads: "American Legion Memorial Bridge 1930."
This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Luten
Photo Galleries and Videos: South Cass Street Bridge