Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Bench by the Bascule Bridge

If you've driven over the Bascule Bridge, you've probably seen it: a huge stone bench at the eastern end, on the north side of U.S. 6.

Have you ever wondered how it got there? If so, then you'll enjoy the amusing article below, which ran on the front page of the Lorain Journal on Friday, June 6, 1941. There's also two accompanying photos, featuring Lorain's Barbara Coley, who agreed to sit on the bench and pose for a Journal photographer. Her comments are pretty funny!

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$10,672 Stone Bench
All Ready for Sitters
Erie Avenue Bridge Armament Seat Called
'Shoe Shine Stand' by Commissioner

Lorainites have an opportunity to sit on a $10,672 stone bench today – if they like stone benches and a view of whizzing automobiles.

The opportunity for this pastime is at the east end of Lorain's E. Erie-av bascule bridge, where the 80-foot stone bench, paid for by the county and PWA, is now complete.

There's ample room. Computed on the basis of 18 inches per person, 60 sitters can ensconce themselves on the bench at once. A lofty perch too, for sightseers, the bench looms some six and one-half feet above the sidewalk. One reaches the dais by walking up three steps.

View Not So Good
The view from the bench is neither one of beauty nor of grandeur. From the seat, a person cannot see the harbor nor the river.

Unless the sitter turns around and kneels so that he can look lakewards over the back of the bench, he has a view only of Erie-av traffic and with the south guardrail of the bridge approach for a background.

The former board of county commissioners approved plans for the structure and on May 31, 1940, awarded the contract to the T. J. Hume Co., Lorain, for its construction. All three board members – J. E. Davidson, E. W. DeChant and Oscar G. Dunn, who continues on the present board – voted approval.

The present county commissioners, including Dunn, have expressed themselves as opposed to the project.

However, they could not block the construction, according to Commissioner E. M. Wickens, because a subcontractor on the job had already cut the stone and if the county had refused to go ahead with the bench, it would have faced a damage suit.

Wickens, bitter against what he said was a waste of taxpayers' money, declared today:

"The thing's a monstrosity. It looks like a glorified shoe-shine stand."

Two weeks ago ago, the American Institute of Steel Construction gave the bascule span honorable mention in competition to determine the most beautiful bridge completed in 1940. The bench was not finished, however, until last week.

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Barbara's photo in the
1939 LHS Scimitar
And what about the young model that the Journal used for its photos?

Barbara Coley graduated from Lorain High School as a member of the Class of 1939. She married Julius A. Komlosy, and they were together an amazing 71 years before his passing in February 2014.

Here is a link to his obituary.

Here's hoping that Barbara is enjoying good health, and that she has had a happy life during the 75 years since her moment in the spotlight on the front page of the Journal.

3 comments:

Pole & 18th-21st Street Block Watch said...

Thank you for the article. I would never have known that bench existed without your article. Interesting waste of tax dollars as well.

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for the comment. I always thought that the bench was part of the bridge and attached to it, since the stone is similar. So I was surprised when I found out it was a standalone structure. Every once in a while I see a biker resting on it and taking a break, so at least it is being used.

Linda Jean Limes Ellis said...

Actually, there are two stone benches imbedded along that stone wall. Perhaps for pedestrians who had to wait for the bridge used the benches to sit and wait until it was lowered and they could continue their walk over it to go downtown. Just a thought.