From Jessica Connor
P.O. Box 766
Highlands, NC 28741
828.526.4949 ext. 8#
828.526.0277 F The Bascom's magnificent covered bridge on Franklin Road in Highlands, North Carolina, was the subject of a community celebration on Saturday, May 23, 2009, at 11 a.m., when a large crowd gathered for the bridge inauguration, ribbon cutting and antique car drive-over.
The Will Henry Stevens Bridge (formerly the Bagley Bridge) is a massive rough-hewn 87-foot-5-inch-long wooden structure; it forms the one-way entrance into The Bascom's six-acre campus. The bridge commemorates the visionary southern artist Will Henry Stevens, who lived from 1881 to 1949 and painted and taught in Highlands and in the surrounding plateau, as well as in New Orleans, his hometown.
May 23 was a red-letter day not only for The Bascom, but also for the Coleman and Winindger families whose generous donations to the art center supported the reconstruction of the early 1800s bridge. It had been languishing in storage for 40 years in New Hampshire. The bridge is now most likely the largest recycled object in all of Western North Carolina.
Dorothy and Jimmy Coleman and Dian and Tom Winingder supported the bridge reconstruction in honor of Will Henry Stevens, the painter, and the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts, where Dorothy participates as a Board member and patron. Dorothy Coleman studied with Will Henry Stevens at Sophie Newcomb College in
The Bascom purchased the bridge from the Graton family and hired bridgewright Arnold Graton to reconstruct it in Highlands, using handcraft techniques and trunnel or tree nail joinery.
"The ribbon cutting and adaptive reuse of the Will Henry Stevens Bridge is a historic moment for Highlands and The Bascom," said Bob Fisher, board chairman. "This is one of the oldest covered bridges in the nation, and we are exceedingly proud to feature it as the entrance to our stunning new center for the visual arts."
Fisher, along with Dian Winingder, Dorothy Coleman and Highlands Town Mayor Don Mullen, spoke at the ribbon cutting, then rode in Alan Lewis' antique vehicle as the first official car to cross the Will Henry Stevens Bridge.
[Our thanks to Trish Kane for forwarding this article - Ed.]