GET BREAKING NEWS IN YOUR BROWSER. CLICK HERE TO TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS.

X

Covered bridge group launches website to spur support, interest

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

PEPPERELL — After years of planning and building, one of the town’s most notable landmarks is almost ready to be unveiled, and to help gear up for the event, the Covered Bridge Committee has launched a new website devoted to news and information about the bridge. The site will also be used for fundraising for the bridge’s continued maintenance.

“We knew we had to notify the public about all the things we were working on,” said committee chairman Diane Cronin. “We had a Facebook account already but what we really needed was a more public website. The community needs to know what our plans are, how to get involved, what the schedule of events is. It was imperative that we launch something to better communicate with the public.

“It was really the committee’s idea to come up with a unique identity and logo,” said Cronin. “The template for the new website was designed by Sites And Signs here in town. They did it in a patriotic theme and then I went in and created the navigation that takes visitors through the site. We populated it with existing content and wrote new things for it. After that, we added some software content to help with the fundraising and live auctions. Right now, we’re auctioning off Pepperell memorabilia and the privilege of being the first vehicle over the bridge. We’ll probably use the auction software to do more fundraising for the community in the future.”

The Covered Bridge Committee and its new website were established to create excitement among residents about the new bridge and to prepare the way for what the town hopes will be a very special grand unveiling of the years long project to replace an older span across the Nashua River.

“Bob Lee, the town’s director of public works, has worked very hard and negotiated for a long time to ensure that we would have an all wood covered bridge,” said Cronin of the new span. “The committee would really like to thank him for his vision. He also had a strong vision for a public place alongside the bridge so that passersby could admire it. That created the impetus for the committee to begin fundraising for the overlook.

“The new bridge is magnificent,” said Cronin. “The way it’s built internally with all its wood and steel, you can see quality in every aspect.”

In addition to the new bridge itself, scenic overlook named after local heroine Prudence Wright will be created on adjacent land owned by the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife immediately. The overlook will include historical monuments, bridge artifacts, natural plants and landscaping and a commemorative brick walkway called the Pepperell Memory Walk

For all that, a fundraising campaign is currently in operation, much of it coordinated from the new website.

“The object is to raise money for the overlook and grand opening ceremony,” said Cronin. “Businesses in Pepperell have donated money to develop the website. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have a site.”

Local businesses that have contributed to construction of the website and the covered bridge project include Hunter’s Rendezvous, Bormann Brothers Inc., Tic’s Boutique, Wilson Brothers, Nicklaus Painting, Covered Bridge Country Store, Preventive Veterinary Medicine Clinic, Inc., Suzanne Lee Photography, Conway Chevrolet, and Sites and Signs.

“The bridge stands as a big symbol to people in town,” said Cronin of the interest being generated by the new bridge. “It’s something we’re very proud of because of its uniqueness and the history it represents. For some of us, it represents our roots and for others, it offers sentimental memories and is a source of pride. There are very few bridges like it left in the country.

“I think that people are extremely excited not only in Pepperell but also in surrounding towns, because we’re seeing interest from other groups and residents outside Pepperell,” said Cronin. “Much of the excitement can be evidenced by members of this committee and other groups such as the Historic Commission and Historical Society, veterans associations, Boy and Girl Scouts, Garden Club, DAR/Prudence Wright Chapter, Farmers Market, Department of Public Works, Lawrence Library, 6th Middlesex Regiment of Militia, many local businesses, and just ordinary residents who have been coming forward every day sharing our vision. They are offering ideas, really grand ideas, on what they want to do in terms of this celebration. When people start to make suggestions and getting actively involved, you know that they’re impassioned about the bridge and feel a personal connection to it.”

As things stand, a grand opening ceremony for the new bridge is scheduled to take place on Sept. 4 together with an extended celebration ending in a block party. The rain date is set for Sept. 5.

Ginning up excitement for the big day is the new website which Cronin said is already drawing attention.

“The site is brand new so I really can’t say how much activity is taking place there,” Cronin said. “But given our Facebook page, news of the committee and its work is spreading much further than just Pepperell residents. People are joining us from all over the country. For instance, we’ve heard from the (New York State Covered Bridge Society) which is very interested in what we are doing. We’ve had businesses outside of Pepperell offering donations too. People are buying bricks for the walkway from as far away as California and Utah.”

But the committee’s plans for the bridge will not stop after the grand opening.

“We plan to maintain the website even after the bridge is completed,” said Cronin. “We’ll use it to promote the history of our covered bridge with images and information and to spread knowledge about Prudence Wright. We want to help keep the public informed about what she did to defend our freedom at the start of the Revolutionary War. We’ll also want to continue fundraising in order to maintain the overlook and do historical promotions. Plus, we still have the public stepping forward and offering more ideas for things they’d like to see happen every year. So, this committee has quite a bit of responsibility into the future.”

Looking ahead, Cronin could see some kind of annual event connected to the new bridge in some way.

“We would like to perhaps plan a road race in the future,” Cronin said. “We’d like to provide for some type of festival or celebration while also promoting the history of the bridge and Prudence Wright outside of our community. We want people outside of Pepperell to see the wonderful history we have and what a quaint and friendly town we have. Pepperell is a good place to shop and a good place to live.”

In the meantime, the Covered Bridge Committee is looking for new members as well as volunteers to help out with the website as well as all the events it has planned around the new bridge. Anyone interested can contact the committee from its new website located at pepperellcoveredbridge.org.