Being historic can be challenging.
The Maeystown Historic District, which includes much of the “little town only one block big,” had a problem with its main entry point, the one-lane stone bridge that embodies the essence of the village.
The bridge, like many of the stone structures in Maeystown, is well over a century old. Christy Muertz, property manager for the Maeystown Preservation Society, noticed the need for repairs three years ago and decided to take action.
“I just kept driving over it every day and saw the damage and went to the village and said I would take on the project,” Muertz said.
While the bridge had been inspected and deemed safe for motorists, Muertz knew work needed to be done in order to preserve the aesthetic as well as structural integrity of the Maeystown icon.
Repairs on the bridge started in September 2017, but it took a “more than a village” to get it done, according to Muertz.
Initial estimates for bridge repairs came in at $35,000, so local businesses began displaying donation jars. Once word was spread, donors began sending in checks and donating on a GoFundMe account online for bridge restoration.
Raising money was only the first step. Muertz was unable to find a contractor to repair the bridge when Joseph F. Becker, Inc. and Dennis Hummert stepped in.
“Dennis made this project happen,” Muertz said.
She also thanked Monroe County Engineer Aaron Metzger for his help, her parents Faye and Charlie Birk for use of their trailers and Bobcat, local newspapers for helping get word out and Midwest Block & Brick for contributing mortar mix for the project.
Christy gave special thanks to her husband, Chris, and mother-in-law, Anita.
Anita helped with the logistics of the project and Chris also helped with finding contractors and construction on the bridge.
“He spent hours on a Bobcat, he put in a drain, dug and exposed the stone gutter and the list goes on, and of course I always picked the hottest day of the year for him to do it,” Muertz remembered.
Muertz’s daughters, Kaylee and Julia, sold raffle tickets, solicited donations and – in true Maeystown fashion – played in the village creek while Christy and Chris worked on the bridge.
Muertz estimates the total cost of the project at around $60,000, but that number may change as not all of the bills have arrived yet.
Work included removing old mortar, tuckpointing, rebuilding a wing wall, placing a culvert to redirect water and applying asphalt to the bridge road to prevent water and salt from seeping into the mortar.
Muertz hopes the improvements to the bridge will keep it protected so future generations can enjoy one of the few one-lane stone bridges still in use in the area.
A ribbon-cutting to commemorate the bridge restoration will take place at 2 p.m. this Sunday.