Until the early 1900s the only way across the Chattahoochee River from Buckhead to Vinings was by ferry or boat. The ferry was operated by the Pace family, the namesake for Paces Ferry Road. That all changed in 1904 when a 280-foot steel truss bridge was erected, a structure which would provide the main source of transit across the river for the next 70 years. Cars had to wait their turn to cross the narrow one lane bridge, and over time the constant use had taken a toll with the structure falling into a state of disrepair.
Many years later in the early 1970s a new concrete two lane bridge was proposed and the now shabby steel bridge was slated to be destroyed. One local couple, Cecil and Hermoine (Hermi) Anderson, opposed the idea of losing the bridge and petitioned the council to preserve it. Cecil had grown up on and around this bridge, and is rumored to have seen the remains of one of General Sherman’s pontoon bridges in the guts of the steel bridge when walking underneath the structure on the riverbanks as a child.
Their argument was convincing, and instead of tearing down the quaint bridge it was preserved for pedestrians with a new concrete 2-lane bridge built alongside it. The bridge maintained its personal significance to locals who used the bridge on their way to school, walked across hand in hand with a sweetheart, fished with friends, and jumped off the sides into the Chattahoochee below. The Alexanders raised a family in their home nearby making frequent trips back to the bridge.
Tragedy struck in 1983 when a collision with a drunk driver took the life of Hermoine and left Cecil badly injured. A grieving Cecil requested that the steel truss bridge be renamed to honor his late wife, Hermi, and Fulton County Commissioner Michael Lomax obliged. Given a fresh coat of blue paint, firmed up for safety, and donning two carved wooden plaques that read “Hermi’s Bridge” at either end, the bridge had a new life.
From a design built for utility to a local landmark, this 115-year old bridge was ultimately saved not once, but twice, by the love of one man for his wife and his dedication to the Buckhead community.