Washington Avenue Bridge

Waterbury, Connecticut

South side of bridge Washington Avenue over Mad River
State Bridge No. 4534
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Recorded by the Historic American Engineering Record
(HAER No. CT-18)

When this bridge was constructed in 1881, the Berlin Iron Bridge Company was still operating as the Corrugated Metal Company; it is one of only four known Corrugated Metal bridges in the entire country. The Corrugated Metal Company's business in metal roofing, roof trusses, and fire-proof shutters had been failing in 1877, when engineer William O. Douglas joined the firm. Douglas, a graduate of the U. S. Military Academy, received a patent in 1878 for the lenticular truss, which soon became a success. The company, which changed its name in 1883, claimed to have built more than 90% of the highway bridges in New England in the period 1878-1888. Waterbury alone bought more than a dozen Berlin bridges. This bridge was part of a project that also built a two-span lenticular Berlin bridge carrying Washington Avenue over the Naugautck River, just to the west; that bridge has since been replaced.

Although a modern beam structure now bears the weight of traffic, the distinctive profile of the bridge's lenticular truss is still clearly visible. Also, the bridge retains its original lattice railing. The orb finials and cast-iron rosettes were distinctive to the Berlin Iron Bridge Company and appeared on its bridges, especially those in urban areas, through the 1890s.


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