Group Seeks To Save Severn Span Via Historical List

December 20, 1991|By Robert Lee | Robert Lee,Staff writer

Before he drew the majestic lines of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, Joseph B. Strauss designed the Severn River drawbridge. That connection may be enough to save the old Annapolis span.

A Philadelphia engineering firm has filed a report with the federal government that praises the design of the Annapolis bridge and urges its inclusionon the National Registry of Historic Places.

Based on the report, government historians have agreed to review the case.

The registry appears to be the last, best hope for delaying or stopping the construction of a controversial 80-foot-high replacement span into Annapolis. The materials to build the new span are in storage at the Port of Baltimore and workers are expected to startwork next month.

"The reports of our death are greatly exaggerated," said Bryan Miller, the president of Citizens for The Scenic Severn River Bridge, which opposes the new span.

The citizens' group commissioned A. G. Lichtenstein & Associates, of Philadelphia, to prepare a report on the historical and technological significance of the 65-year-old bridge. The report was filed last week with the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Abba Lichtenstein, whom Interior officials described as "The expert on American bridge engineering history," notes that the Annapolis bridge and the Golden Gate, built between 1933 and 1937, shared the same chief architect and designer.

Lichtenstein and two associates inspected the Annapolis bridge in October and November to determine how much of the original span remains and what alterations have taken place. They concluded that modifications had done little to destroy the bridge's historical significance and praisedStrauss' design.

"The handsome well-proportioned bridge with its graceful arched approach spans and Neo-Classical-inspired balustrade and tender houses is a regionally significant example of the City Beautiful movement," Lichtenstein wrote.

Lichtenstein's report differs from that of state historical preservation officer J. Rodney Little, who told the State Highway Administration that so much of the bridge has been replaced -- and will need to be replaced -- that it would not be eligible for the list.

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