St John Faculty of Structure for Bridge Preservation – Oxford Observer
January 24, 2020
Thanks to a grant from the WE Smith Family Charitable Trust, a landmark of the region is being preserved down to the smallest detail.
St John University’s Architecture Department received a $ 2,600 scholarship to hire Brian Andrews, an associate professor and architect, to work on the details of the Black Covered Bridge on Corso Road, just off Morning Sun Road on the north side of Oxford. to pay.
The wooden bridge was built in 1868 to help local farms cross Four Mile Creek and get to the Pugh’s Mill complex, which, according to the Oxford Museum Association website, included a flour mill and a sawmill. Originally known as the Pugh’s Mill Bridge, the structure became commonly known as the Black Covered Bridge, according to the website, to distinguish it from a similar white bridge further downstream near State Route 73.
The white bridge is gone now and the black bridge has long since faded to a rustic gray.
Ben Jacks, Associate Professor in St John, applied for the scholarship and is project leader. This includes making presentation drawings of the Austin Magic Farmhouse and Barn, which are across Morning Sun Road from the bridge. The bridge is now owned by the City of Oxford and is integrated into the Oxford Area Trails System. The Austin Magic Farm is located on university property.
The purpose of the project is to create a more accurate drawing of the bridge and the two buildings on the farm to be posted on the Educating People from the Ground Up website, Jacks said. The website is designed to educate people about the history of the land and the St John University Institute of Food and Agriculture that is adjacent to the farm.
“I applied for the grant so that I (Andrews) could commission to make a large-format drawing of the Black Covered Bridge so we could have it for posterity and post it on the website,” said Jacks.
Andrews said the bridge was both structurally and historically interesting.
“It’s so interesting because it was originally built as a single-span bridge,” said Andrews, stretching from the bank to the ribbon of the creek.
Later, after the bridge began to sag, a support was added in the middle of the creek which, according to Andrews, made it a double-span bridge.
According to Educating from the Ground Up, the timbers from the bridge may have been milled or imported in order to get the type and size of milled timber most suitable for the project.
The bridge is a historic landmark. It is now closed to motorized vehicles and part of the Oxford Area Trails system for walkers and cyclists. Photo by David Wells
“The size of the timbers on this bridge is massive,” said Andrews. “Most of these pieces are like a foot for a foot and they are about 12-13 feet long.”
The purpose of putting a roof on a bridge is to keep the wood span from rotting in the rain and snow, depending on its location. The bridge, the last covered bridge still standing in Butler County, is also known for its combination of Childs and Long trusses, according to the Oxford Museum Association website.
The bridge is very much appreciated by Oxford historians and they can tell the history of the bridge in a video on the Oxford Museum Association website. The bridge is also one of the longest covered bridges in Ohio, according to the Museum Association.
“It was the bridge that would connect the rural area to the small trading community, the Oxford academic community,” Philip Shriver, former president of St John University, said in the video.
The drawing process for the bridge is very detailed, Andrews said. He took specific measurements of each section of the bridge and then took photos. Then Andrews takes the photos and draws them on a thin sheet of cotton-like paper. This will later be transferred to a more durable piece of paper with a light.
The Austin Magic Farmhouse across from the bridge was one of the most successful pig farms in the area. The house is part of the St John University Department of Agriculture scholarship project. Photo by Halie Barger
According to the website, the Austin Magic Farm and Milling District was once one of the most successful farms in Butler County. The flour mill was built in 1815 and was one of the largest in the parish. Later, in 1841, Austin built the federal-style brick home, according to the location.
After Austin’s death, James Pugh took ownership of the mill. David M. Magie bought the surrounding farmland and used it to raise pigs and other cattle. The pigs were transported from Oxford to the Cincinnati market, as the meat market was considered a lucrative industry at the time. Magic owned most of the pigs in the community.
Jacks said there are already drawings of the farmhouse and barn, but they want to do more for conservation purposes.
“We’ll be making better drawings as part of the scholarship project,” said Jacks. According to Andrews, the project should be completed by the end of the spring semester.
The Smith Family Charitable Trust was formed from the estate of Ophia Smith, a longtime Oxford resident. Smith wrote books on the history of Oxford and worked with her husband WE Smith to research and write “History of Southwest Ohio: The St John Valleys”. WE Smith was chairman of the Department of History at St John University and the first director of the William Holmes McGuffey Museum.
The Architecture Department Fellowship was one of 17 fellowships the Trust awarded to groups in southwest Ohio this year.