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Washington Bridge Society records

 Series — Folder: Washington Bridge Society records
Identifier: 1636-1879

Scope and Contents

The records consist of a single file of documentation. Included are records concerning the accounts of the society, a 1792 draught of a plan of the first bridge bridge, along with an undated hand-drawn map records of the collection of tolls, accounts of the bridge's proprietors, petitions against the society, documentation concerning petitions to build a "free bridge," and the society's remonstrances against the proposed free bridge. Finally, the documentation also includes three printed copies of a Report of a Committee to Examine the Receipts and Expenditures of the Washington Bridge", appointed by the General Assembly in June 1837.


  • Creation: 1792-1838

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

No special restrictions unless otherwise specified.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is in the public domain unless otherwise specified. We reserve the right to restrict reproduction of materials due to preservation concerns.

Biographical / Historical

The Washington Bridge, which spans the Seekonk River between Providence and East Providence, was first opened to traffic in 1793. John Brown and a number of other private investors had received a charter of incorporation for the Providence South Bridge Society. Since then there have been four more bridges at the same location. In 1807, the society changed its name to the Providence Washington Bridge Society. In October 1815, a gale destroyed the existing bridge, soon after which a new charter was granted to petitioners incorporating the society under the new name of the Washington Bridge Society. The bridge was not replaced, however, until sometime in the 1820s. On November 20, 1860 the Society conveyed the "Washington Bridge Estateā€ to the City of Providence, in accordance with an act passed by the General Assembly. The wooden bridge was destroyed by fire and replaced by another wooden bridge. This bridge lasted until 1885, when the General Assembly appointed a Washington Bridge Commission in 1883, (Public Law 1883, ch. 349) to develop a steel structure to replace the previous wood structure. This bridge was partly meant to remove serious obstructions to navigation along the Seekonk River. In addition, the new bridge also featured a swing span that permitted boats to pass through.

In 1920 the General Assembly established a second Washington Bridge Commission to investigate the feasibility of constructing a higher-level bridge that could accommodate the significantly increased volume of ship traffic. The Commission worked from 1920 to 1924, at which time it submitted a final report to the General Assembly. In 1927, the Commission was directed to proceed with construction. A contract for design was awarded to the Merrittt-Chapman and Scott Corporation and the fifth and current Washington Bridge was completed in 1930.


.02 Cubic Feet (1 folder)


This series covers the history of the Washington Bridge between 1792 and 1838. During this time the bridge was establsihed and owned by a succession of private interests.


No accruals are anticipated at this time.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Rhode Island State Archives Repository

33 Broad Street
Providence RI 02903 USA