The old Bridges Building at 46 Columbus Ave. is no more, a victim of the internal combustion engine.

A new city parking lot, symbol of modern America, will go up — if that’s the right phrase — on the site, which has been dedicated in transportation of one sort or another for more than 100 years.

But if you believe in ghosts, on any moonless night you ought to be able to hear the whinnies of horses, and make out the phantom shapes of landaus, broughams, surreys with the fringe on top, sleighs, hackneys, Hupmobiles, Hayneses, and vintage Pontiacs.

When the city took the property from Joseph E. Smith, last January, it presaged the end of the old building. During the past week the wrecker has just about completed the job. The origin of the building is slightly shrouded in mystery, at least from this historian. But according to Richard Bridges, who looked up the deed the other day in the County Courthouse, the first owner of record was Abraham Burbank. In 1861, Burbank sold it to a Peter Quackenbush, and in 1887, it was sold to James Bridges, Richard’s grandfather.

For many years the business was run by the Bridges family, first by James, then by his son, Samuel, and finally by Samuel’s sons, Richard and Ralph. Until 1921 it was a livery business, but in 1921, moving with the times, it became a garage. In the early days, the Bridges establishment sold and rented horses and all sorts of buggies; later they held various car dealerships and also garaged cars. They would have as many as 100 stored at a time. Those were the days when many people didn’t have their own garages, and when the paint jobs on the cars weren’t as weatherproof as they are now, so people seldom left their cars out. The Bridges bowed out in 1944, selling the building to Isador Secunda, who kept it only a short time, reselling it to its last owner, Mr. Smith, who used it for storage and minor car repairing.

The third floor of the building has a history all its own. Fred Cloutier, a blacksmith, used it for years as a buggy repair shop. In 1928, it was taken over by W.H. Scriber and his son, Leon. The elder Scribner was an expert carriage, later car, painter. Leon specialized in upholstery. The carriages and cars were lifted to the third floor by an elevator.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.