Old Martin's Mill Bridge boards find way into the schools

MEGAN HERR, The Record Herald
The Greencastle-Antrim School Board and two Antrim Township supervisors join Derek Mowen and family for the presentation of  benches made from Martin’s Mill Bridge original boards. Mowen constructed the benches which will be placed at each school in the district.

Antrim Township and Greencastle-Antrim School District have found a way to save an important part of the community’s history.

Original timber of Martin’s Mill Bridge that was replaced during the recent renovation has been recycled and used to create eight benches to be placed in each of the four schools in the district as well as the administrative wing.

Greencastle-Antrim Middle School Principal Mark Herman presented four of the benches to the school board at their meeting on May 19.

Martin’s Mill Bridge has been a part of the Antrim Township landscape since 1849 and is one of only two covered bridges in Franklin County.

“The township reached out and said we have this significant piece of our history and we would like to find a way to connect that to our kids,” said Herman. “After they reached out, we brainstormed what we could do with this wood that would help make that connection. We wanted it to be something inside the buildings to help preserve and protect the timber, but also something that the kids could touch and experience at the same time.”

The benches, which were crafted by Derek Mowen, are designed and created for each building with the children’s developmental stage in mind as well as the existing architecture of each space and are representative of the craftsmanship of the Martin’s Mill Bridge construction period.

“Because of it’s historical and community significance, I’m so thankful that they had the forethought to reach out and say, ‘we don’t want to lose this piece of our identity and heritage,” added Herman. “I think its wonderfully depictive of everything that we were hoping to do with this generous gift and I’m very excited.”

Herman said between now and Old Home Week, they will be working on putting together a brochure to accompany the benches to inform people of the origin of the wood and the construction and design of the benches.

“That way, it is not just a bench in a space and they can be fully appreciated,” said Herman.

Mowen said it was a pleasure to work with wood that had so much history in it.

“You could see places where there were 12 nails all bent up and could tell that that guy was having a bad day,” said Mowen. “It will be nice to put it somewhere where the future can enjoy it.”