Century old Bridge Street watch tower down for repairs

Posted at 4:16 PM, Jun 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-09 17:44:50-04
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Driving down Bridge Street you can't miss the 50-foot railroad signal tower that's stood watch over the West side for more than a century. But after decades exposed to the elements, the watch house on top needs work. Starting today the shed is down for restoration.

Bridge TowerTowerdownstreet

The area has changed drastically over the 100+ years the tower has looked over it. The watch tower sat between a set of parallel train tracks that no longer exist on Bridge Street. A watchman would direct trains and cross traffic from the little house atop the 50-foot tower, made of railway ties.

No one knows exactly how long the tower has stood tall over Bridge Street, but the oldest picture dates back to 1910. Other pictures from the 20s and 50s show signs of change. The roof shape and exterior decorations were redone or removed. At one point heat and electricity were even added to the little hut. There is one more clue, the date 1889 is inscribed on the railway ties of the tower.

1910   Tower1  Tower 2

One mystery remains though: the color of the tower house and that is what developer and restorer Charlie Secchia of SIBSCO wants to know, "What we would like to find is somebody who can remember what it used to look like. We would love somebody who's a 90 plus year old person from the West side who can say gosh, in the 1940s, 50s, 60s here's what it looked like. Heres what color it was. That would be really nice to know."


SIBSCO, LLC purchased the property a few months ago and is paying for the restoration project.  The tower shed is being housed nearby at Rockford Construction during the process.

For an interesting read on the tower check out this article from the Grand Rapids Telegram-Herald in 1887

An hr in the tower_news article

For more on the restoration check out their Facebook page.