Celebration set for historic bridge in Holmesburg

Pennsylvania leads the nation in failing bridges with more than one-quarter of its 22,000 aging roadway spans classified as structurally deficient.

But at least one Pennsylvania bridge has endured the test of time.

Frankford Avenue’s Pennypack Creek Bridge is considered the nation’s oldest roadway bridge in continuous use. On Saturday, Oct. 13, Holmesburg area community leaders will host a celebration of the 315-year-old stone arch structure to coincide with the dedication of a new Pennsylvania Historical Marker there.

Speaking at the September meeting of the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association, local historian Fred Moore invited the whole community to attend the free festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the bridge on Frankford Avenue just south of Ashburner Street.

“Seventeen thousand cars a day cross that bridge and this is 315 years [after it was built],” Moore said. “There’s nothing across the country with those credentials.”

The bridge has been in continuous use since its 1697 completion, historians say. It is perhaps most celebrated for its contributions to the success of the American Revolution.

The bridge served as a key link on the Kings Highway, a 1,300-mile route between Boston and Charleston, S.C., that served during Colonial times as a merchant and post road, then as a military transport and supply route during the revolution.

The total length of the bridge, including approaches, is 154 feet. The abutments are 73 feet apart. Its three arches rise 25, 25 and 13 feet.

The Oct. 13 program will begin with a ceremonial march across the bridge, which will be closed to traffic from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Moore said.

The ensuing festivities will include historical presentations about Colonial times and the area’s Native American influences, exhibits, environmental presentations, as well as family oriented entertainment and activities. Organizers will sell Holmesburg history calendars for $5 each to help offset the cost of the event. Calendars will also be available at The Dining Car, 8826 Frankford Ave.

Call 215–624–6614 or e-mail pennypackbridge@gmail.com for information.

In other Upper Holmesburg Civic Association Business:

• City Councilman Bobby Henon announced that negotiations are continuing in the sale of the former Liddonfield Homes property. The Philadelphia Housing Authority board has agreed to sell the 32-acre tract to a redevelopment group that will convert it into a new Holy Family University campus as well as housing for low-income seniors.

Henon further reported that the Holmesburg Library at Frankford and Hartel avenues will close later this month for roof repairs and other exterior work. The work is expected to take three weeks to complete.

• Paul DeFinis, the UHCA zoning chairman, reported that Northeast Treatment Centers — the organization that tried unsuccessfully to establish a methadone clinic on Frankford Avenue in Holmesburg — is proposing to open a similar facility at 7520 and 7550 State Road.

Northeast sent a letter to the civic association alerting the neighborhood group to its plans. DeFinis and UHCA president Stan Cywinski agreed to consult with the neighboring Holmesburg Civic Association and other affected groups before responding to the proposal.

• The next UHCA meeting will be on Thursday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m., at St. Dominic’s Marian Hall, 8532 Frankford Ave. ••