Shelter Island’s Ransome Bridge Listed on State Register of Historic Places
By Christine Sampson
The Ransome Japanese Bridge on Shelter Island, one of only two known surviving bridges built by the engineer Ernest L. Ransome, a pioneer in reinforced concrete construction, has been listed on the State Register of Historic Places, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. announced Tuesday.
The red-and-white, 60-foot-long bridge was reportedly built in the early 20th century and sits on Clark’s Cove at Presdeleau, the former summer estate of Francis Marion Smith.
According to Assemblyman Thiele, Mr. Smith was best known for his role in creating the whitening agent Borax, and Mr. Ransome designed two refineries for Mr. Smith to expand the production of Borax. Mr. Ransome then built for Mr. Smith an unusual Japanese-inspired bridge out of reinforced concrete, iron reinforcing bars comprised of twisted rebar — also known as “Ransome bars” — and a cast concrete surface with a brick pattern. Its profile is a low bell curve.
“The state and national registers are the official lists of buildings, structures, districts, landscapes, objects and sites significant in the history, architecture, archeology and culture of New York State and the nation,” Mr. Thiele said in a statement.
The Ransome Japanese Bridge is now one of 120,000 historic buildings, structures and sites listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places, which qualifies them for public preservation programs and services, such as grants and state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits. The bridge has also been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.