The Bridge Tender’s House in Dallas County, Alabama is a small, historic building located near the Alabama River. It was built in the late 19h century and served as a residence for the person responsible for operating the original bridge, which had to be raised and closed.
The house is a simple two-story structure with a gabled roof and porches that faces the river. This small cottage sits on the edge of a bluff above the Alabama River on Water Avenue in downtown Selma, next to the historic St. James Hotel.
Selma’s first bridge across the Alabama River was opened in 1885. A span of the bridge had to be opened to allow river traffic to pass. Opening and closing this span and collecting tolls was a 24-7 job performed by a bridge tender. The bridge tender and his family lived in the Bridge Tender’s House which was constructed in 1883-1884. In 1899, Dallas County bought the bridge and house. Tolls were discontinued, and the bridge tender became a county employee.
In 1940, this bride was replaced with the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The old bridge was destroyed but its cornerstone can still be seen from the downstairs porch of the Bridge Tender’s House. This historic site was preserved by the Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Society.
Today, the building is a reminder of the importance of river transportation in the region’s history and is a contributing property to the Water Avenue Historic District that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
Source: “Site of Selma-Dallas County’s 1st Bridge, 1884-1940” Historical Marker.
There are two private, separated spaces available for lodging in the Bridge Tender’s House: an upstairs apartment and a downstairs apartment. Both have a private riverfront balcony and a perfect view of the iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge on the banks of the Alabama River – just steps away from the St. James Hotel and its dining room and bar.