Preservation Merit Award
for restoration of the Wade Park Avenue Bridge in Cleveland's Rockefeller Park
In 1896 John D. Rockefeller donated over 200 acres of land to the City of Cleveland to become a park. It was later realized that bridges need to be constructed to help connect the surrounding neighborhoods to the park. Rockefeller again donated $100,000 under the term that Cleveland must raise an additional $20,000 for the construction of the bridges. The four bridges were completed between 1897 and 1907; construction for the Wade Park Avenue Bridge began in 1899. The Richardsonian style bridges are among the most significant in the Cleveland area for their excellent engineering and architectural design by Charles F. Schweinfurth. The Wade Park Avenue Bridge was recorded by the Historic American Buildings Survey in 1965 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
Rockefeller Park is one of Cleveland’s most popular sites. However, over the years, the sweeping staircase of the Wade Park Avenue Bridge became unsafe, and it was barricaded for a number of years to prevent pedestrian use. Beginning in 2011 the City of Cleveland, University Circle and Holden Parks Trust worked together to undertake a restoration project that returned this local gem to its original glory.
This project was to clean and repoint all of the stonework and restore the staircase. The original drawings were found and used to guide the restoration. The stone treads that had maintained their structural integrity were kept in place. Deteriorated treads that could be salvaged were re-used elsewhere in the bridge where stone was missing. Areas of the bridge, like the steps, that were not stable were restored with historically appropriate materials and techniques using the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and National Park Service Preservation Briefs as guidelines. Close consideration went into the various cleaning and construction techniques used to restore the bridge to ensure protection of surrounding vegetation and waterways.
This project was made possible because of three organizations: the City of Cleveland, University Circle and Holden Parks Trust. Now the steps are beautifully restored and the pedestrian connection to the park and Wade Park Avenue neighborhood has been re-established, giving the public more of an opportunity to enjoy the park and the bridge.
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Click here for a list of past Ohio Historic Preservation Office Award recipients.