May 31, 2022 - The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department officially revealed the restoration of all decorative knee portal components in the truss of the historic 19th century Wells Street Bridge at Promenade Park. Mayor Tom Henry, Parks and Recreation Director Steve McDaniel and Manager of Project Administration David Weadock spoke about the significance and value of the restoration to city residents and visitors this afternoon.
“We couldn’t be happier with the results,” Director Steve McDaniel said, “the missing and deteriorated components on the knee portals have been accurately restored within preservation guidelines. Connection and access is maintained to both sides of the river.”
The Wells Street Bridge, built in 1884 by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio, is one of few examples of a truss bridge of that era designed specifically for heavier city traffic that still survives. The decorative components deteriorated over time. This project involved meticulously measuring and scanning the bridge to create exact replications of the replacement sections. Once designed, molds were created for fabrication. The new components match the same size and metal composition of the original bridge. Once installed, the new components were primed and painted to match the bridge as it stands today.
Total construction cost for the knee portal restoration was $131,405. This project has been funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund Program and is being administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology. It is in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws, rules and regulations as required.
Today the bridge is preserved for pedestrian crossing over the St. Marys River from Promenade Park to the Parkview Tree Canopy Trail. It can also be rented for wedding ceremonies, parties and public events. More information about the bridge can be found at www.fortwayneparks.org.