100 Years of the Mystic River and the Bascule Bridge
Mystic Museum of Art (MMoA) is pleased to announce its special fall exhibition, from October 7 through December 18, 2022, with a special Members Day Preview on October 6.
100 Years of the Mystic River and the Bascule Bridge focuses on the historic importance of these defining features of Mystic, and the inspiration they hold for artists. The exhibition will present paintings, prints, etchings, and ephemera from the Museum’s permanent collection, augmented by works of art on loan from private collections and fellow institutions. The river’s strategic location—equidistant between Boston and New York—its sheltered anchorages, and its proximity to old-growth forests as a source of lumber, proved ideal for a booming shipbuilding economy. Though the river is less than five miles long, no fewer than five shipyards sprang up along its banks from its head at Whitford Brook in Old Mystic to its mouth in Noank Harbor.
All that Mystic needed was a connection between the east and west banks. As transportation evolved from horses and carriages to automobiles and trolley cars, so did the means of traversing the river. The original simple wooden crossing of 1819 (with its cautionary sign to “Walk Your Horses”) was replaced a century later by the current iron and concrete structure designed by Thomas E. Brown, the engineer of the Otis Elevator Company. When the Mystic River Bascule Bridge opened in 1922, it was the first of its kind in the country. Today, it is the oldest still in operation. The residents, reporters, and artists who watched the first automobile drive across the river a hundred years ago expressed the hope that it would not only connect the Town of Groton and the Town of Stonington, but “bind them together with a closer community spirit, which would lead to future developments little dreamt of a few years ago.”