MASSENA — It was 110 years ago this Saturday that a contract was signed between the town of Massena and bridge builder Holton Robinson to construct the Massena Center bridge.
Now, 110 years later, officials will gather for a ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday to dedicate a historic roadside marker at the bridge, 600 Route 42.
The one-lane suspension bridge was designed and constructed by Holton Duncan Robinson and built in 1909-10. Mr. Robinson was born in 1863 in Massena Center, the grandson of Daniel Robinson, one of the first settlers at Massena Point in 1804, and came to be a well-known engineer.
Holton Robinson and David Steinmen, who formed the engineering firm of Robinson and Steinmen, designed bridges such as the Deer Isle Bridge in Maine, the Hercilio Luz Bridge in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil, and the Thousand Island Bridge System on the St. Lawrence River.
Mr. Robinson returned to Massena Center in 1909 to design and construct the suspension cable bridge across the Grasse River. According to information from Massena Town Historian MaryEllen Casselman, Mr. Robinson acted as his own contractor and built the bridge for $39,000 over a 10-month period after the Massena Town Board refused to spend more than $40,000 and no contractor would bid for less than $60,000.
The Massena Center bridge, which is owned by the St. Lawrence County Highway Department, has been closed since 1989 and, despite its age, it still spans the river. Two years ago, Massena Center residents began a campaign to obtain a historical marker for the bridge. They had initially hoped to have the bridge reopened for biking or walking, but were told that no funds were available.
Saturday’s dedication has been planned by Ms. Casselman and the town of Massena. Ms. Casselman applied for a grant for the historical roadside marker from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, a private grant-making foundation established in 2005.
One of the foundation’s main initiatives is to help people celebrate their community’s history through historic signage. Since 2006, the foundation has grown to offer six different historic signage programs with more than 825 signage grants awarded in New York state and beyond, all the way to Alaska.