Friends Rebuilding Whites Bridge

A community comes together to rebuild their beloved bridge that was destroyed by arson.
Paul Phenix
Belding, Michigan
United States
1 Team Member

Our Bridge

  • Brown Truss Type Covered Bridge.
  • Built in 1867
  • Was the oldest operational covered bridge in Michigan that still carried vehicle traffic.
  • Destroyed by arson on July 7, 2013.
  • 100% Disabled Veteran leading rebuilding effort.

Who We Are

Whites Covered Bridge stood for over 146 years, providing a vital transportation link, a picturesque setting, and great historical value to Ionia County, Michigan. On July 7, 2013 the bridge was destroyed by arson. At that time, the bridge was the oldest covered bridge in use in Michigan.

Within days, our group, Friends Rebuilding Whites Bridge was formed to make sure that our covered bridge gets rebuilt. What started as a group of strangers has evolved into a group of friends with the common goal of seeing this bridge rebuilt.

Our group came out swinging and quickly got Governor Rick Snyder, the Ionia County Road Commission and the township that the bridge stood in our our side as partners in the rebuilding effort. We also acted quickly as a group and organized a recovery effort of the remains of the old bridge using volunteer labor and machinery along with donated fuel for the excavator and trucks, and removed the remains from the river not only stopping the debris from further polluting the river, but saving the taxpayers of Ionia County, Michigan over $40,000.00. Without our intervention, the debris would still be in the river because the county did not have the money to remove it.

What It Will Cost

Bridges aren't Cheap! The estimated cost to build a replica bridge is in the neighborhood of $350,000-$450,000.00 down from the intial estimate from the county, which includes the cost of all materials and labor. This cost estimate was derived from the Project Engineer who rebuilt the Ada, Michigan covered bridge that was destroyed by fire in 1979. He has come on board with us and has been instrumental in furthering our cause, he also brings experience that few people will ever possess, the experience of already rebuilding a covered bridge.

We have partnered with the Fallasberg Historical Society, who now has the oldest covered bridge in Michigan open for traffic, to be our Fiscal Sponsor. Their beautiful covered is located just a few miles upstream from where Whites Bridge stood so they have a vetted interest in our effort. They will maintain all the funds raised through this campaign and when we have raised the money, they will turn the money over to Keene Township so that they can enter into a contract with the county to replace the bridge.

All money raised for the rebuilding of the bridge will go for just that, the rebuilding. If for some reason the bridge can't be rebuilt, the money will stay with Keene Township who will use the money to fund programs for the citizens of the township.

  Why Should You Donate to Us

Covered bridges are cool. No, really, you should contribute because this bridge has impacts outside of the local area. Whites Bridge is a popular spot for photos; it is part of covered bridge tours, and bicycle tour routes. The bridge also held a lot of history, it was a place where you could go and actually see and feel the spot where your long deceased relatives signed their names. I know my Great Grandparents, Grandparents, Mother, Father and myself and my children all signed our names in the old bridge and even though we lost history in the old bridge, the new one will be a clean slate for the current and future generations to sign.

Although 146 years of history have been destroyed, it is not forgotten and rebuilding the bridge will keep the person who burned it down the satisfaction of knowing that they succeeded. They will see that in the end that the "Phoenix" will rise and that good always trumps evil.

Find This Campaign On
raised in 1 month
0% funded
0 time left
$450,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on November 3, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $10USD

    Silicone Wrist Band that states "Rebuild Whites Bridge.

    1 out of 200 claimed
  • $20USD
    Window or Bumper Sticker

    White letter window sticker or yellow and red Bumper Sticker promoting our cause.

    1 out of 500 claimed
  • $30USD
    Square Nail

    A square nail that was used in the building of the bridge. These steel handmade nails are rare and not many were recovered.

    6 out of 50 claimed
  • $75USD

    T-Shirt featuring a picture of the bridge with an old car driving through it as pictured above.

    3 out of 200 claimed
  • $150USD

    Actual bolt with washers that held bridge together for 146 years. These bolts have been bent by the heat and weight of the bridge when it was burned.

    3 out of 50 claimed
  • $750USD
    5x7 Picture Frame

    A handmade frame built with wood that was recovered from the bridge. The frame will contain a picture of the bridge permanently mounted in the frame with high build epoxy.

    0 out of 25 claimed
  • $1,000USD
    8x10 Picture Frame

    A handmade frame built with wood that was recovered from the bridge. The frame will contain a picture of the bridge permanently mounted in the frame with high build epoxy.

    0 out of 25 claimed
  • $150,000USD
    Trip to Bridge

    An all expense paid trip to the new bridge on dedication day. We will pay for first class airline tickets for you and a guest, 4 night lodging in the hotel of your choice, a rental car, food and a place in the horse drawn wagon that will be the first to drive across the new bridge. In addition to this, you will be one of the people holding the ceremonial scissors cutting the ribbon to officially open the bridge.

    0 out of 1 claimed
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