The Pace’s Ferry Bridge, which was built in 1904, replaced the ferry operated by Hardy Pace as the primary way to get from Buckhead to Vinings. Judge E.B. Rosser, who was the Chairman of the Roads and Bridges Committee of the Fulton County Commission at the time, spearheaded the effort to make the bridge a reality by negotiating with Cobb County officials to share in the cost of construction.
On November 14, 1903, a public bidding for the construction contract took place at the site of the future bridge. A total of 47 bids were submitted and a local company, the Cotton States Bridge Construction Company, submitted the low bid of $9,260. The original bridge construction contract on file at the Atlanta History Center reflects that Fulton County was responsible for $6,945 of the cost while Cobb County bore the remaining $2,215.
The bridge blueprints called for two steel spans of 140 feet each with wood approaches of 56 feet and 100 feet. The supporting piers, according to the blueprints, were to be driven at least 7 feet into the river bed. The bridge would support a live load of 1120 pounds and a dead load of 770 pounds.
Although construction of the bridge was slated to begin in 1903, a Cobb County cash shortage delayed the start of construction until May 1, 1904. And while the date of the actual bridge opening is unknown, the construction contract specified a completion date of August 15, 1904.
In 1974, the bridge was bypassed by a modern two lane structure. The Pace’s Ferry Bridge subsequently found new life as a pedestrian walkway. In 1984, the bridge was formally renamed for Hermi Alexander, who was killed by a drunk driver the year before. Hermi’s husband, Cecil Alexander, was also seriously injured in the accident. Cecil, a prominent Atlanta architect, and his wife had been instrumental in saving the bridge from destruction in 1974 when it was bypassed.
After falling into disrepair, the bridge was closed to pedestrians in 2006. Recently, the City of Atlanta, the PATH Foundation, and Cobb County, along with Mr. Alexander’s assistance, raised sufficient funds to restore the bridge. The restoration included replacing rotted wood and repainting the structure, which had been covered in lead based paint. Much of the cost of the restoration was devoted to encapsulating the bridge to make sure the paint chips did not contaminate the river when the old paint was stripped. On November 23, 2010, the Cobb County Department of Transportation hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially reopen Hermi's Bridge to pedestrians.
The Buckhead Heritage Society has been instrumental in documenting the history of the bridge and the efforts to restore it. Learn more by reading "Hermi's Bridge: A Love Story
," which appeared in the February 26, 2010, edition of the Buckhead Reporter.
Cecil Alexander and Hermi's Bridge
Photos taken by Stephen H. Moore - Ace Photograher.