Awards People

Red Bridge Awarded by BSA

Renovated by Beals and Thomas

Worcester, MA – Beals and Thomas, Inc. was recently presented an Accessibility Award from the Boston Society of Architects for the renovation of the historic red bridge at Elm Park in Worcester. Approximately 19 acres, Elm Park is considered to be one of the oldest parks in the United States. It was the first purchase of land for a public park in 1854.

The design for the reconstruction of the approximately 55-ft. long red bridge was a collaborative effort, involving the city of Worcester, professional design consultants, and students and faculty from the Worcester Technical High School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The design of the bridge structure was prepared to mimic the historical structures that originally spanned the pools.

Early photo of the red bridge

The existing height of the bridge and clearance underneath was maintained in order to continue to allow ice skaters to glide underneath without striking the bridge structure. As a result, the approaches to the bridge on either side were elevated to include walkways with an approximately 4.5% slope leading to the bridge, in accordance with the ADA and MAAB.

The reconstructed bridge provides access to park visitors of all abilities to experience the views from the bridge overlooking the ponds and to observe the activities within the historic park that includes elements designed by the Olmsted Brothers.

The project was made possible through a generous donation from the Kraft Family Foundation and was rededicated in December 2015 as the Myra Hiatt Kraft Memorial Footbridge, in honor of the well-known philanthropist and humanitarian, who was born in Worcester.


The original bridge was constructed in 1877 to span the channel that connected the Elm Mere and South Mere, formerly known as the Oval Pool and Diamond Pool, respectively.  The pools were used for various forms of recreation including, pond boat sailing in the summer and ice skating in the winter.  The height of the bridge and clearance underneath the bridge structure was to accommodate ice skaters gliding beneath the bridge in the winter months.

By 1881, the original cedar bridge was already in need of replacement, and was subsequently replaced with a bridge constructed of “hard pine”.  The bridge was reconstructed several times over the years with the most recent bridge having been built in the 1980’s, prior to the adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.  Recently, the existing red bridge at Elm Park was in need of repairs and the City of Worcester recognized that if the bridge was to be replaced, they should address the need to provide access to the bridge to pedestrians of all abilities.  Despite being inaccessible to many because of the extremely steep slopes on either side of the bridge structure, it was still considered a highly desired location for wedding photographs.