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Built in 1837
Restored in 1998
In 1836 the Federal
Government, under President Andrew Jackson, had a surplus of funds. This surplus
money was returned to the states, which, in turn, apportioned it to the towns.
Pelham received approximately $3800.00 in surplus federal funds in late 1836 or early
At a town meeting
held on March 14, 1837, the town placed most of this money in the hands of Capt. Edward
Wyman to loan out at interest for the benefit of the town. At the same town meeting
the town voted to spend some of the money to build a stone bridge across Beaver Brook
south of Pelham Center.
Following is an
excerpt from the March 14, 1837 Town Meeting where the citizens" "Voted to build
the bridge across Beaver Brook on the road leading from the meeting house to the house of
Moses Bailey - to be done by a suitable arch or arches and to chose David Cutter, Esquire
and Jonathan Atwood, Jr. to carry same into effect."
This bridge was built
on what is now known as Bridge Street near what was then the home of the Abbott Family.
Uriah Abbott, believed to be the first of the Pelham Abbotts, moved to Pelham from
Andover, Massachusetts while New Hampshire was still a British colony. Uriah Abbott
is listed among the Pelham patriots who fought in the Revolution. Because of its
proximity to the Abbott home, Pelham's first stone bridge became known as the "Abbott
Bridge," although it was sometimes called the "South Bridge."
This is an excerpt from the
"Reflections" book published by the Pelham 250th Anniversary Committee
Abbott Bridge Restoration - June 22, 1998 - October 23, 1998
Click on this link to view
the restoration project
New Hampshire Preservation Alliance
The Town of Pelham,
New Hampshire's Department of Transportation,
Annemarie B. Hargreaves
James L. Garvin
for the outstanding restoration and stewardship of the Abbott Bridge
June 4, 1999
Presented to the Town of Pelham, New Hampshire's Department of Transportation (DOT),
Annemarie B. Hargreaves of the Pelham Historical Society and James L. Garvin of the state
Division of Historical Resources, the award recognizes the outstanding collaborative
effort that resulted in the rehabilitation and restoration of New Hampshire's oldest
double-arched stone bridge. In 1994, the town applied for a Transportation
Enhancement project under the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act
(ISTEA) to rehabilitate the bridge. At a time when there were many other pressing
financial priorities, the town matched the federal funds. The townspeople and local
officials consistently supported the project with positive votes at annual town meetings.
DOT's Bureau of Bridge Maintenance became involved when no
private contractors bid on the repair job. DOT removed inappropriate parapets of
sawn granite and repaired a bulging side of the dry-laid stone structure. The
roadway was underlain with a hidden concrete pad that leaves the historic stonemasonry
intact but distributes vehicle loads safely.
Saving The Past - Bridge, chapel win honors
Eagle Tribune article excerpt - June 4,
1999 By: Liz Anderson
Annemarie B. Hargreaves worked tirelessly to bring together
state, federal and town dollars to save a historic stone bridge in Pelham.
The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance is
giving six projects its 1999 Preservation Achievement Awards for "for significant
contributions to preserving the state's historic resources."
Mrs. Hargreaves, a member of the
Pelham Historical Society, remembers when she first heard in 1991 about federal dollars
available for road projects, including "historical restoration."
It reminded her how
representatives of the town historical society had sought to have the roadway over the
Abbot Bridge designated as a scenic highway in an attempt to safeguard the structure.
Built in 1837, Abbott Bridge is
the oldest surviving double-arched stone bridge in the state. It is located on Old
Bridge Street North and spans Beaver Brook.
Mrs. Hargreaves helped apply for and win a $100,000
federal grant for the project in 1994, then followed through on every step of the planning
The work included adding a concrete slab to reinforce the
roadway, installing safety rails and fixing a bulging spot in the stone work. Construction
began last summer, and the bridge reopened in October.
Annemarie B. Hargreaves helped secure federal, state
and town money to restore historic Abbott Bridge in Pelham. Today the project will be
honored by the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance as some of the best restoration work in
''Everybody ended up being very pleased and proud,'' said Mrs.
Hargreaves, who will share the award with the town, the Department of Transportation and
James L. Garvin, the state architectural historian.
Mrs. Hargreaves said she now is
working to have a historical marker placed at the renovated bridge.
The award, she said, ''is sort of
like a final touch.''
Pelham's Abbott Bridge eligible for historic list
Lowell Sun - June 5, 1996 Excerpt
By: Claudia Combs
| The town
is now the proud caretaker of its own valuable, historical treasure.
Abbott Bridge on Old Bridge Street North built in 1837 is the
oldest surviving double-arched stone bridge in New Hampshire, making it eligible for the
National Register of Historic Places.
Officials from the N.H. Department of Transportation, Bureau of
Bridge Design, and N.H. Division of Historical Resources gave selectmen a series of
reports on the bridge. They provided estimates on what restoration work and repairs
need to be done to preserve the landmark.
Jeff Brillhart of the New Hampshire DOT said the main issues are
the bridge's condition, its guardrail - which Brillhart said is a hazard - its age and
Brillhart said the bridge is in fair condition, but is an
"old bridge and is showing its age."
In May, Brillhart said he met with the state Historic Preservation Office which was
completed additional research "to see just how historic this bridge actually
During the bridge's re-evaluation, the historical experts
discovered the structure's historical importance, and stepped forward to "take care
that the history is not diminished."
Mark Whittemore, bridge design chief from the Bureau of
Bridge Design, offered selectmen four options:
a stone-face concrete bridge and metal approach rail to "improve the integrity of the
bridge." Cost, including engineering and design work, is $130,000.
·Construct a new bridge rail on top of the
large stones already in place. This suggestion also included a timber approach rail
instead of the metal approach rail in the first option. The grand total: $100,000 to
·Construct a new bridge rail on top of the
large stones already in place, plus repair the bulging wing wall. Cost $120,000 to
·Construct a new bridge rail on top of the
large stones already in place, plus repair the bulging wing wall and the stone overlay of
the arch. Cost $180,000 to $185,000.
James L. Garvin, architectural historian for the state Division
of Historical Resources, said the bridge is now eligible for the National Register of
Historic Places, so "we are required to protect this historical structure."
He assured selectmen that all three state organizations will sit
down and discuss every option available.
Selectmen Chairman Paul Scott smiled and said, the town is being
given "a belated birthday gift for its 250th anniversary."
Brillhart said the restoration project is not scheduled for
construction until 1998, but they would like to receive direction from the board on the
Bridge makes its mark
Eagle Tribune - May 21, 2001 By:
| When the sign is
unveiled in a small bit of Memorial Day pomp and circumstance, it will tell of a bridge
that has survived for 164 years to become the only one of its kind in the state.
But perhaps the better story is of the past seven years.
The Pelham Historical Society will proudly introduce the official
New Hampshire State Historical Marker erected at Abbott Bridge on Monday at 11:30 a.m. The
last double stone arch bridge in the state, it joins the Robert Frost Farm in Derry and
176 other New Hampshire locations in earning the deep green seal and sign that indicates a
rare historical landmark.
But state officials say the long, expensive cooperative effort to
research, rescue and restore the bridge may be as noteworthy as the bridge itself, which
was built in 1837 and spans Beaver Brook on Old Bridge Street North.
"This is just a wonderful example for
other communities to show what can be done," said Linda R. Wilson, an architectural
historian with the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources.
"This is a splendid
example of local dedication, commitment and research, and the fact that you can still go
out and find important information on important history. It doesn't rely on some
bureaucrat in Concord," she said. "This certainly was a momentous
After watching two other
similar bridges in town have their character wiped away by improvement work focused solely
on the engineering, the concern over the crumbling Abbott's fate grew in the 90's. Enter
Annemarie B. Hargreaves, who in 1994 took up the task of getting a federal grant and saw
to it the town paid only 20 percent of the $185,000 restoration cost, then followed
through on all the planning and construction.
|| It was a
project unique enough that the state couldn't find a single contractor to do the work,
forcing the Department of Transportation to do the job itself. Four months of careful
construction -- which involved adding concrete reinforcement, steel bars, safety rails and
repairing stone work all without making any significant aesthetic changes -- led to a New
Hampshire Preservation Alliance award in 1999.
And all the research Mrs. Hargreaves did to earn grant money was easily applied to the
obtaining the historical marker, which now makes the bridge eligible for the National
Registry of Historic Places.
"It's a rare occasion that a
historical marker gets placed, and not everything that is important in the eyes of local
people will receive a historical marker," said Mrs. Hargreaves, who is in the process
of getting a bench placed where people could sit by the brook and enjoy the bridge.
"It has to have some statewide historical significance."
Historical Society members hope
that the marker will give people pause as they drive over a piece of history on their way
to the town center or Pelham Plaza.
"I think a sign there will
help people realize this is something special," said member Herbert S. Currier.
"I was hoping someday they might get to it, but I give credit to Anne for getting the
ball rolling and following through."