Stone arch bridges, particularly on highways, are extremely rare in Michigan. As a three-span structure, this bridge is particularly significant for its relatively long, multi-span configuration. The bridge is in fact the longest known stone highway bridge in Michigan. The bridge is three spans, but the southern span is mostly filled in with dirt for reasons which are unclear. The structure was preserved in 1995-1996 and remains today in excellent condition.
Information and Findings From Michigan Historic Bridge Inventory
The Marshall Avenue Bridge is eligible for the National Register as an
example of a stone masonry-arch bridge, a structural type that is
extremely rare in Michigan.
Information and Findings From Michigan Historic Sites Online
The Marshall Avenue Bridge crosses Rice Creek in a residential neighborhood in the city of Marshall, the county seat of Calhoun County. The bridge is comprised of three twenty-five foot stone-arch spans. The structure's random range work rises to create solid railings along the forty-two foot wide deck, which holds two sidewalks and a thirty-five foot wide roadway. The stonework also continues at each end of the bridge to form the abutments and flared wing walls. The bridge, situated on a north-south axis, is a few blocks south of a National Historic Landmark District that encompasses 867 buildings. Ketchum Park and a dam are located to the east of the bridge.
Statement of Significance
The Marshall Avenue Bridge is eligible for the National Register under Criterion C as an example of a stone masonry-arch bridge, a structural type that is extremely rare in Michigan because the state has few good sources of building stone. Michigan can claim only a handful of stone masonry spans, all of which employ short-span arches that spring from stone sidewalls. Multiple-span stone-arch bridges are particularly unusual. The Marshall Avenue Bridge owes its stone-arch design to a deposit of sandstone in the vicinity of Marshall. Very little information is available about the history of the three-span structure, but the construction date of 1899 provided by the bridge inspection reports seems reasonable. It was renovated in 1951. It was apparently at this time that the arch barrels and inside surfaces of the railings were coated with concrete, greatly detracting from the original design. Another renovation in 1996 removed the concrete and restored the structure's original appearance.
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