The bridge that connects Main Street and South Main Street in Torrington today is something that most of us don’t even notice. In fact if you do a search on Google looking for a photo of the bridge you won’t find the modern bridge, only images of the bridge either prior to the 1955 flood or the area where the bridge was after the flood.
For those of us that didn’t live through the flood of 1955, but are still drawn to it, there is a memorable photo that is intriguing but also confusing. The photo shows Main Street covered in debris seemingly running into the Naugatuck River. No real signs of the road can be seen but from the buildings you know it is there. You also know that there was a bridge leading to South Main Street in front of the Center Hotel as it was known at the time (better known for much of its life as the Farnham Hotel) which can be seen in the lower left hand corner. There is no bridge as it had been washed away by the flood. But what is there is a roof spanning the river with nothing under it.
The roof is part of an earlier time when the bridge wasn’t just a way to get from Main to South Main without a second thought. Rather it is from a time when the bridge itself was part of the downtown, a destination itself. Flanked on one side and for a while both sides by buildings straddling the Naugatuck River and making the Center Bridge a stop as much as a passway.
A map of 1907 Torrington shows a building on the western side of the bridge. A picture dated around the turn of
the century shows the building suspended over the river. By 1952 the Center Bridge building was such a hit that there was a second building on the eastern side of the bridge.
The Following photo shows three of the businesses that were on the west side building – Lamonica’s and Sons Fruit Market, Bodnars and Capitol Market.
Then in 1955 it was all washed away, leaving a passway over the river and nothing more.