This small cottage sits on the edge of a bluff above the Alabama River on Water Avenue in downtown Selma. It is located next to the historic St. James Hotel.
Selma’s first bridge across the Alabama River was opened in 1885. A span of the bridge had to be opened to allow river traffic to pass. Opening and closing this span and collecting tolls was a 24-7 job performed by a bridge tender. The bridge tender and his family lived in the bridge tender’s house which was constructed in 1883-1884. In 1899, Dallas County bought the bridge and bridge tender’s house. Tolls were discontinued, and the bridge tender became a county employee. In 1940, this bride was replaced with the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The old bridge was destroyed but its cornerstone can still be seen from the downstairs porch of the bridge tender’s house.
The historic Bridge Tender’s House was preserved by the Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Society. It is a contributing property to the Water Avenue Historic District that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
Location of Bridge Tender’s Bridge: 32.406499,-87.017732 – Google Maps
Source: “Site of Selma-Dallas County’s 1st Bridge, 1884-1940” Historical Marker. (The slider at the top contains a picture of this marker.)