ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Bridge House in Albany, Georgia
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Bridge House in Albany, Georgia
The Bridge House
Built in 1858 by famed African American bridge
builder Horace King, the Bridge House now serves
as the Albany Welcome Center.
The Bridge House
The heritage center features
museum exhibits tracing the
history of Albany and the Flint
River corridor of Georgia.
Turtle at Riverfront Park
Noteworthy pieces of antique
equipment, like this historic
peanut harvester, line the
exterior of the museum.
Turtle in the Playground
The Thronateeska Heritage
Center is a large complex
occupying a number of
buildings on the riverfront.
The Bridge House & Riverfront Park - Albany, Georgia
Historic Welcome Center
Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
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Riverfront Park
The City of Albany borders the
beautiful Flint River. Walking
paths and overlooks offer
views of the picturesque river.
Horace King Overlook
The center includes a science
museum and planetarium
that teach about sciences
from weather to astronomy.
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The historic Bridge House, built by famed
African American architect and engineer
Horace King, stands on Front Street stands
on historic Front Street in Albany, Georgia.

Built by noted African American architect and
engineer Horace King, the house was built in
1858. It now serves as home to the Albany
Welcome Center and provides a gateway to
the city's riverfront attractions.

Born into slavery in South Carolina in 1807,
Horace King was of African and Catawba
Indian ancestry. He was first introduced to
bridge construction in 1824 and it is thought
he developed his attachment to the Town
Lattice Truce style of bridge architecture
while still living in South Carolina.

King was sold to contractor John Godwin and
moved with him to what is now Phenix City,
Alabama in 1832. The following year King
competed his first major construction project,
a 560-foot bridge across the Chattahoochee

The design and work were so well done that
Horace King quickly became the South's
premier builder of bridges. He worked on
projects from Mississippi to Georgia and,
thanks to Godwin's generosity, received not
only a large share of the proceeds from his
work, but obtained his own freedom as well.

By 1858, King had been granted special
rights by the Alabama Legislature and was
perhaps the best known engineer and
architect in the South. That year he was hired
by Colonel Nelson Tift to build a covered
bridge across the Flint River at Albany.

The design contracted for by King included
both a bridge and an adjoining Bridge House
that served as a gateway to the city. Both
were completed on schedule in 1858.
here to see a photo of the original Horace
King bridge.

While King's Albany bridge was later
destroyed by flooding, the brick Bridge House
still stands. Beautifully renovated, it now
serves as home to the Albany Welcome
Center and gateway to the Horace King
Overlook and Albany's RIverfront Park.

The park is a beautiful project that provides
public access to the Flint River. Covering over
six acres, it offers playgrounds, Turtle Grove
Play Park for kids with its two giant turtles, a
music and light animated play fountain, the
Bridge House and more.

Riverfront Park is actually an outgrowth of the
greatest disaster in Albany's history. In 1994,
Tropical Storm Alberto settled over the Flint
River valley north of Albany. Having come
ashore at Destin in the Florida Panhandle
with winds of 65 miles per hour, Alberto was
not even a hurricane, but the damage it did
exceeded all expectation.

Between Americus and Macon, the storm
dropped more than 27 inches of rain, forcing
creeks, streams and the Flint, Ocmulgee and
Chattahoochee Rivers from their banks. The
killer storm claimed 28 lives in Geogia and
the flooding devastated communities and
towns from the mountains to the coastal
The Alberto Flood brought the Flint River to a
stage of more than 43 feet at Albany, the
highest level ever recorded there. More than
23,000 people were forced from their homes
in the city and vast areas were flooded. At
Albany State University, the water rose to the
second floor levels of buildings.

The city, however, has done a remarkable job
of recovering from the flood and Riverfront
Park is a testament to Albany's spirit. Built as
part of a major renovation and revitalization
effort that began after the flood, it now serves
as a gathering place for all ages.

In addition to its other features, the park
offers great views of the Flint River. The
stream, which brought both life and such
devastation to Albany, is normally shallow
and picturesque, flowing over slight rapids
as it passes Riverfront Park.

The Bridge House is at 112 Front Street on
the historic Albany riverfront and is between
the Ray Charles Memorial and the Flint
RiverQuarium. Hours are Monday - Friday
from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m.
to 4 p.m. and Sundays from Noon to 4 p.m.

It is a great location to learn more about
Albany by picking up brochures, watching the
free film "From the Heart of Southwest
Georgia" or asking the staff for additional
information. The Welcome Center also offers
local souvenirs (including popular stuffed
turtles), books by local authors and kitchen
and cooking items inspired by the famed
Queen of Southern Cuisine, Paula Deen.

Please click here to visit the Welcome Center
home page.