The Browndale Bridge carries Browndale Avenue over Minnehaha Creek, a short distance north of 50th Street at the entrance to the Edina Country Club District.
The first bridge at this site may have been constructed as early as 1860; late-19th century records contain frequent references to a "stone arch bridge" crossing Minnehaha Creek near the Edina Mills area.
The stone bridge was destroyed by floodwaters and was rebuilt in 1902. The plans for "Bridge No. 44" survive in the archives of the Hennepin County Engineer. This iron and timber structure was itself washed away in 1906 and was replaced by the present concrete arch. Concrete wing walls were added in 1907 and the entire structure was overhauled in 1909. The earliest bridge inspection records date back to 1933.
Historical & Architectural Significance
The Browndale Bridge is historically significant for the engineering heritage embodied in its design and construction. It is a rare, early twentieth-century example of a short-span, concrete-arched highway bridge and the only surviving, authenticated standing structure contemporaneous with the Edina Mill (1857-1932). The masonry arch span provides physical evidence of the evolution of bridge engineering and the high quality of workmanship that went into its construction. The bridge is also an important part of the Minnehaha Creek cultural landscape and serves to illustrate how the watershed has been shaped by historical changes in land use.
Heritage Landmark Designation & Description
The Browndale Bridge, owned by the City of Edina, was designated an Edina Heritage Landmark in 2006, recognized for its historical and architectural significance to the community as well as to ensure that the structure is preserved with the utmost of care.
In 2008, the Browndale Bridge underwent an extensive renovation guided by the plan of treatment supporting its heritage landmark designation. The plan of treatment ensured that the bridge would be preserved in place with stabilization of the historic masonry.
Since the preferred preservation treatment is rehabilitation, the project included repair and replacement of deteriorated features and accurate duplication of the original, based on historical, pictorial, or physical evidence. The distinguishing historical qualities and character of the bridge (i.e., its height, shape, and form) were maintained with the rehabilitation of the surfaces of the bridge and wing walls by coating them with concrete, duplicating the original finish as closely as possible and preserving the existing shape of the structure. The non-historic steel railings attached to masonry bollards were replaced with historically appropriate ornamental metal railings based on historical and pictorial evidence.
Today, the Browndale Bridge stands strong and will continue to be a reminder of Edina's historic Mill Site that stood at its base.