The 150-foot long, four-foot wide bridge was designed and fabricated over the summer with the assistance of students and assembled Homecoming weekend in a campus-wide celebration. The Northampton Street Bridge connecting NJ and PA, known locally as the “Free Bridge,” was designed by James Madison Porter III, a graduate of Lafayette’s Civil Engineering program and faculty member from 1890-1917. Porter’s grandfather, James Madison Porter, was one of the College’s founders in 1826.

“The bridge build perfectly symbolized the history of Lafayette Engineering by bringing people together for a collaborative project and connecting the arts and engineering through the bridge’s artistry,” said Scott Hummel, the William Jeffers Director of the Engineering Division. “It’s the ideal tribute to a history rich in fostering connections between engineering and the liberal arts.”

Carol Henry ’81 was enthusiastic as she participated in the bridge assembly. Henry’s student thesis on the bridge helped get it placed on the historical registry and possibly saved it from demolition when there were rumors of removing the bridge in the 1980s.

The bridge replica was assembled in about four hours and stood as a centerpiece on the College landscape through Sunday. It was disassembled Monday with construction materials donated to a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Additional photos

150 years of engineering website


Susan Boerchers
Coordinator, X-Trained Engineering Initiative