The history of the celebration
In November 2010, cranes were at the Historic Staunton Train Station removing one of Downtown Staunton’s most recognizable historic landmarks, the Sears Hill Bridge. It had been condemned the preceding January, and after months of conversation about restoration and who would foot the $200,000 bill, the bridge was removed and placed in storage until funds could be raised. Concerned citizens formed a committee, Friends of the Sears Hill Bridge to begin the fundraising efforts.
The structure had been a valuable pedestrian link between the Sears Hill neighborhood and downtown Staunton for more than a century, and the grassroots effort that germinated to replace the landmark is a testament to Staunton’s unique local culture and fervor for preservation and community action.
Installation of the renovated Sears Hill Bridge 2010
The Staunton Downtown Development Association collaborated with the Friends of the Sears Hill Bridge Committee, the Sears Hill community and the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge to sponsor a series of events in mid-2011 to raise awareness and encourage donations that included a short movie titled “It Takes More than Love to Build a Bridge.” Other publicity activities included a film contest, a storefront art gallery and two opening night events. Community leaders and citizens rallied to raise the funds and advance the project.
Installation of the Sears Hill Bridge 2010
Fast forward two and one-half years later and the Sears Hill Bridge is beautifully restored and ready for pedestrian traffic. The inaugural Bridge Day was held April 13, 2013 and was a celebration of this exceptional community achievement. “All of the businesses here at the station are excited for the bridge to be back place and functional,” said Kay Shirey of Rachel’s Quilt Patch located at the Staunton Station. “The Sears Hill Bridge restoration demonstrates not only our preservation culture here in Staunton, but how the community can come together to save a unique piece of our history. It restores our pedestrian link to the Sears Hill community and restores a destination for tourists to see a beautiful perspective of our city and the station.”
The classic white buntings have become a symbol of the Bridge Day Staunton Celebration.
Bridge Day Staunton is now an annual event organized by a collaboration of local businesses interested in promoting Staunton’s unique culture of local music, arts, history, food, artisans, shopping and community action. Starting at one of our most beloved local landmarks, the Sears Hill Bridge at the Staunton Station, and fanning out into downtown’s many independent businesses and community hubs, visitors and residents can look forward to (RE)discovering great shopping, entertainment and food, all with a local flair only Staunton can provide!