Theodore Burr (1771-1882), was one of America’s premier bridge engineers and designers. He is famous for designing and patenting a truss/arch combination that used a traditionally framed multiple kingpost truss to which a segmented timber arch was added. This is known today as the Burr truss. The Burr truss is one of the most widespread timber bridge designs that can still be seen in covered bridges today.
The Oxford Memorial Library is the former home of this illustrious covered bridge builder and the last known existing structure to be built by him. It was, therefore, the most logical location for a covered bridge resource center, and the Oxford Library included it in their Capital Campaign expansion and improvement project that began in 2005.
Completed during the summer of 2011, the Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Resource Center’s (TBCBRC) design was kept period appropriate with the Federal-style home in which Burr lived from 1811 – 1813. The Center is a modest room with two oak desks and a Federal blue upholstered chair and rug, with many oak bookshelves displaying covered bridge models and truss examples (such as Queenpost, Kingpost, Howe, Town, and Burr trusses).
As part of its permanent collection, the TBCBRC also hosts a vast library of covered bridge related books, magazines, and newsletters from all the bridge societies in existence today, as well as some that no longer exist. It also houses an extensive postcard, photograph, and slide collection dating back to the early 1950’s, much of which was donated as a gift of Sherburne residents Bob and Trish Kane. Thanks to a most generous donation by Terry and Sara Miller from Kent, Ohio, the Center now has several modern amenities, including computers and scanners, for the convenience of the patrons visiting the Center.
The Resource Center will be to researchers, covered bridge societies, and fans of covered bridges what Cooperstown is to baseball. There is no other covered bridge center like it – anywhere. The new research facility is available for serious scholars who are looking for covered bridge images (photos, post cards, or slides), researching bridge history and details, and other documentation on covered bridges worldwide. For covered bridge fans, just being able to sit in the house that Burr built will be extra inspirational.
The TBCBRC is open by appointment during Library hours.