Taking a Gambrel on the Design
Churchill Covered Bridge, Newington
One of my favorite CTMQ readers once wrote a comment regarding one of these newer, uglier covered bridges, “Even the classics we all love were new once.” Indeed.
That doesn’t mean that these random, rather non-functional covered bridges that seem to proliferate at townhouse complexes for some weird reason will ever be “historic” or gazed upon with joy in the future. I mean, look at this thing. It’s pretty ugly.
But perhaps I’m missing the point. Perhaps… just maybe… this bridge is actually a purposeful nod to a locally important historic figure somehow. It’s possible, right?
After all, it’s located on Churchill Drive in the Churchill Bridge Townhouses complex directly across the street from Churchill Park. If I had to guess, I’d say that there was a guy named Churchill who lived around here at some point.
I guessed correctly:
Captain Charles Churchill served in the American Revolution, as did three of his sons, leaving his wife and younger sons ages 9 and 11 to run the family farm. Besides being a captain in the Train Band, he was tailor and tanner with the tannery by the brook which ran through his property. The Churchill house built in 1762 was a gambrel roofed, two and one-half story building with a typical Connecticut River Valley doorway, but unusual for Newington. The doorway had a scrolled pediment, Ionic capitals, rosettes and six-pointed stars. It ranks among the finest mid-eighteenth century examples in this region.
Cool. Except for the part where I tell you this “finest mid-eighteenth century example” was torn down a hundred years ago. But did you catch the part about the gambrel roof? You know, that heavy and low sloped style roof… just like our covered bridge here?!
What the whaaat? Did 1970’s architects of economical suburban townhouses really do something like this on purpose? I have no idea, but it’s a quaint thought, isn’t it?
The bridge seemed solidly made and has likely been here for nearly 50 years. I will go to sleep tonight with the idea that someone, somewhere 50 years ago decided to make this thing look like one of Newington’s favorite sons’ long disappeared house.
And now I hope you do as well.
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