The Pond and "Pont a' St Stephens" (Bridge at St Stephens)

As I am not a painter, sculptor nor musician, I have had to resort to the limited capabilities that I do have to create art. It has always been my goal to create a place that will allow those who visit to use their imagination to make their own stories about their experiences at Saint Stephens. I will say that the Bridge at Saint Stephens has been inspired somewhat by Claude Monet, a late nineteenth and early twentieth century French artist. Monet is well known for his “Water Lilly” impressionist paintings that were created at his own lily pond located in Giverny France and I recommend that you visit Giverny and the home of Claude Monet if you ever have the opportunity.

The lily pond at St Stephens was constructed in 2003 which was two years prior to the construction of the house. I began planting water lilies and Iris’s in the pond as soon as it was filled by the rain which took just a few months.

I first saw the bridge in 2004 as I was working on a drainage project and could see through the rust, brush, vines and weeds and recognize the beauty of the ironwork. I hoped that someday the bridge could be rescued from its location which was prone to yearly flooding along with the drift of corn stalks, tree limbs and brush that came with the high waters. It was twelve years later (2016) that the opportunity for me to take possession of the bridge came about, so with much work and help from many friends the bridge was moved to its current location.

The bridge was built by the Vincennes Bridge Company of Vincennes Indiana. Although the records from the bridge company have been lost we believe, (through much research) that the bridge was constructed between 1900 and 1910. The bridge design is considered a “Lost Pony Truss Bridge” with many of these bridges dotting the rural areas in the early to mid-twentieth century. The bridge was located on the Harry Devillez farm between Wasson and Muddy Illinois and had not been in use since the early 1950’s. After many long discussions with Mr. Devillez we don’t believe that this was the original location for the bridge but was later moved to this location in the 1920’s or 1930’s to make easier access to a portion of the farm that lay across a major drainage-way, most all of these iron bridges have been replaced with modern structures of reinforced concrete that accommodate the heavier and wider loads we see today.

-David Bartok

 

A special thanks to all of those who helped make the “Bridge at Saint Stephens” possible.

Harry Devillez            Andrew Daniels

Donnie Boulds           Bennie Herschberger

Gary Grisham             Larry Grisham

Woody Hathaway     Clay Bryan