PERKASIE — Considering its age, the South Perkasie Covered Bridge doesn't look bad.
Work is needed, though, on the bridge that was built in 1832 and moved in 1958 to dry land in Lenape Park, where it was reopened to the public a year later, according to organizations working on raising money for a planned restoration.
"It's made of wood, of course, and wood does not last forever," said Lee Metzger, president of the Perkasie Historical Society.
"Mother Nature's taken its toll," he said. "The bridge itself just needs repairs."
Information on the savethebridge.com website describes the things that need to be fixed.
Number one is that the bridge has begun to lean and is out of plumb, which puts all the bridge's weight on one corner.
Also, the bridge abutments in the park are shorter than the ones when the bridge was on Main Street over Pleasant Spring Creek.
"At its original location, the longer, deeper abutments supported the bridge," the information says.
Two planks on each of the four corners rested on the abutments at the time, but in the park only one of the eight is resting properly on the abutments, it says.
Portions of the bridge are also rotting, the information says, in part because the bridge is closer to the ground than it was to the creek, which allows ground damp to spread moisture to the wood.
In August of 2018, Perkasie Historical Society started raising funds for the restoration, Jerry Treffinger, the organization's treasurer, said. The bridge is one of four historic venues Perkasie Historical Society, which led the 1958 bridge move, helps preserve.
Perkasie Borough, the Bucks County Covered Bridge Society and Perkasie Historical Society have since started a combined effort to raise funds for and manage the project. The fundraising goal is to raise $100,000 by March 1 in order to qualify for a matching $100,000 Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Keystone Historic Preservation Construction Grant.
As of early February, about $52,000 has been received, with money that has been pledged but not yet received bringing the total raised to about $80,000, Treffinger said. The fundraising total also includes the recently announced $15,000 matching grant from Penn Community Bank, he said.
"We are grateful to partner with the Perkasie Historical Society the Borough of Perkasie and so many area residents to preserve this historic landmark through this dollar-for-dollar matching donation. With your help, we can save the South Perkasie Covered Bridge," Penn Community Bank Jeane Vidoni said in a release announcing the matching grant.
"Under the gift conditions, Penn Community will provide a one-to-one match of donations to the project to fix the bridge and make it an outdoor museum, starting now and ending when the $15,000 match is met by other contributors," the release said.
The museum will have information at both the bridge and online and will include information about all 51 covered bridges that once existed in Bucks County, according to savethebridge.com.
"The South Perkasie Covered Bridge is a true landmark in the preservation of covered bridges not only in Bucks County, but nationally as well," Scott Bomboy, chairman of Perkasie Borough Council's Historical Committee, which is overseeing the project, said on the website.
"Because it has been out of road service since 1958 and easily accessible, the South Perkasie Covered Bridge will make an ideal outdoor museum for people to learn about authentic covered bridges," he said.
The covered bridge is the most photographed location in Perkasie, the website says.
"It's a popular attraction for wedding parties," Metzger said. "They come and have their pictures taken there."
Treffinger said he often sees families taking photos at the bridge.
Free Will Brewing will have a Covered Bridge Sunday fundraiser for the project 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23.
Event information includes that there will be a new beer release related to the historic bridge. At 2 p.m., there will be a ceremony to mark the occasion, along with a presentation of rare photos of the bridge. Perkasie Historical Society will also have a display at the event.
Another fundraiser will be Monday, March 9 when Perkasie Covered Bridge Night at the Perk will be held from 5 to 9 p.m.
Donations may also be made through the savethebridge.com website.
The South Perkasie Covered Bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places. All the repairs will meet National Park Service and federal guidelines, the savethebridge.com information says.
"It's one of those things nobody'll miss until it's gone," Metzger said, "so we want to make sure it doesn't get gone."
The work on the bridge will include fireproofing paint to automatically extinguish fire at the bridge, along with adding interior lights and security cameras.