Design snapshot: Sach's covered bridge - Fine Homebuilding
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Square One: Good Home Design Starts Here

Square One: Good Home Design Starts Here

Design snapshot: Sach's covered bridge

comments (3) November 24th, 2011 in Blogs
KHS Katie Hutchison, Contributor

Click To Enlarge Photo: Katie Hutchison

A while back, I strayed from New England and visited this covered bridge in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Built in 1852 to span approximately 100 feet across Marsh Creek, it later served both Union and Confederate soldiers in the Battle of Gettysburg. It was closed to traffic in the late 1960’s, and in 1996 floodwaters swept it from its abutments. After raising it three feet and reinforcing it with steel beams, it was then reopened to foot traffic.

The simplicity of its exterior purposeful form has both nostalgic and contemporary appeal. Bands of clapboard cladding alternating with unclad bands, in which crossing structural members are exposed, emphasize the length and tectonics of the span with elegance. From the interior, the diagonal geometry of the substantial exposed wall framing and overhead trusses repeats as if in rhythm with your pace as your cross from one side to the other.

Curiously, the lower, continuous unclad band that invites air and intermittent daylight inside is below eye level. This directs your focus inward and reinforces the sheltering experience. I wonder, though, if the restoration change to the bridge elevation put the daylight openings below eye level; perhaps the soldiers in 1863 could have looked out with greater ease because they were crossing on a different, lower floor level relative to the daylight openings. On the other hand, it may have been intentionally originally designed to limit view and exposure. Still, I longed to pause en route and comfortably take in the view from within. Too bad for me. I’ll have to design my own covered bridge.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast and SquareOne


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posted in: Blogs, architecture, framing, Design, Design snapshot, wooden bridge, bridge, covered bridge

Comments (3)

ttompson ttompson writes: This is a really cool bridge! I love rustic things like this. I've been looking for residential bridge construction in Kentucky for a river we have on our land. Maybe this bridge will inspire my design!
Posted: 6:09 pm on October 29th

hopalong3r hopalong3r writes: I live in California and have no experience with covered bridges. But I do have horses. I agree with Patrick. I can't believe it's an oversight, everything else is so well thought out.
Posted: 9:39 am on December 5th

patrick_mccombe patrick_mccombe writes: I think the windows were placed lower so horses would have a tougher time seeing out of the bridge and therefore less likey to get spooked.
Posted: 9:36 am on November 28th

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