Published: May 28, 2024 | Updated: May 23, 2024

Cedar Street Bridge connects community, businesses

Joseph Worth, new owner of Cedar Street Bridge, has been visiting Sandpoint since 2020, all the while developing a passion for the bridge and the community.

Joseph Worth, new owner of Cedar Street Bridge, has been visiting Sandpoint since 2020, all the while developing a passion for the bridge and the community.

SANDPOINT — It hasn’t always been easy to cross Sand Creek.

In fact, making your way from the old train depot to downtown and back first began with the historic Cedar Street Bridge, which now boasts a market filled with various local businesses. 

The structure had its genesis in a footbridge that was first built around 1892, according to the Society for Architectural Historians’ website. However, the height of the bridge was not conducive to flooding that periodically took place. 

In 1903, L.D. Farmin, who owned a homestead where the downtown now sits,  engaged A.P. Gillies to design and construct a new Cedar Street Bridge according to specifications for a 16-foot-wide wagon lane alongside a 6-foot-wide pedestrian walkway. 

To accommodate advancing infrastructure and a growing population, the bridge took different forms throughout the years, eventually becoming the covered marketplace it is today.

After a stage of neglect and deterioration in the mid-1900s, a developer was inspired by the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge marketplace in Florence, Italy, the Society for Architectural Historians’ website said. In May 1983, Cedar Street Bridge celebrated its first “grand opening” as a marketplace with local vendors — one being Coldwater Creek, which was at the time a small local business. In the 1990s, Coldwater Creek was quickly becoming a national business and eventually took over the entire bridge, redesigning its interior. 

Mickey Quinn, executive director of the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce, managed the bridge from 1997 to 1999 when Coldwater Creek inhabited the building. Later she was in charge of store operations for all of the company’s locations from 2002 to 2013.

“It’s a 1,600-square-foot location and it was really a destination,” she said. “So many people from all over the country would come to Sandpoint specifically because they wanted to go to the Coldwater Creek store.”

At the time, the company had three different catalogs: North Country, Spirit of the West, and a men’s catalog called MilePost Four, Quinn said.. 

The bridge was divided similarly to how it is now, with each room hosting a different catalog or department. For example, MilePost Four had an upstairs room next to where the restrooms are. A deli cafe, coffee shop, and wine-tasting room were all at one point a part of the Coldwater Creek store at the bridge. 

The company operated there until 2005 when the building finally became too small for the rapidly growing business. 

“It certainly has gone through many iterations,” Quinn said. “Ownership changes brought a lot of challenges for tenants, but a lot of opportunities too. It’s been interesting to see it evolve over time, but I really feel that the new owners are just so committed to making it as vibrant as it once was — where it was a true gathering place for the community.”

After various seasons of metaphorical drought alternating with flourishing business, the bridge celebrated a grand re-opening this year as new owners have paved the way for another successful season at the bridge. 

Current owner Joseph Worth, and his new team at the bridge are setting out to achieve that vision along with the community’s help.  

“That’s what we’re trying to do — let the community know that we’re wanting to resurrect this ‘third place’ — outside of work and the home,” Stacey Mueller, bridge manager, said. 

Their goal is for Cedar Street Bridge to be a gathering place — a shelter when it rains, a landmark for visitors, and a safe haven for moms looking for a place to take their kids.

Over the past 15 years, Shery Meekings, Creations owner, has faced different seasons at Cedar Street Bridge as ownership changed hands six times. While the bridge was at full capacity two years ago, 14 vendors left since then. 

Now the bridge is filling up fast, with new potential vendors calling every day.

What past eras for the bridge have lacked, Meekings said this new owner brings — from creating a new position for Mueller to sharing in the women’s passion for making it a third place. 

“We’ve always had maintenance and management and leasing, we always had to make the numbers,” Meekings said. 

Now they have direction, a new position and motivation. 

“We are 20 creative individuals inside of this building,” Meekings said. “We’re all type A, we’re all super creative, we’re all super passionate. So what do you do with all this creativity and all this life force? How do you get us to work together as one big team, to take this beautiful space and make it shine? And that’s what [Mueller] is doing and that’s what this owner has sewn into.”

Now, they have the chance to “say yes to their guests,” as the two phrased it. Their first step after the purchase was finalized was to throw off the locks to the bathrooms and re-open them to the public. 

“With new ownership comes new vision,” Meekings said. “[Past owners] had a different vision. I don’t know what it was. But whatever people experienced the last couple years — that’s gone. That new, fresh community feeling that everyone has been missing, is back.”

While they recognize the time and effort it may take to rebuild, she said the trio is up for the challenge.  

Next comes the spinning wheel of color, Mueller said, which is how she describes what the group is trying to achieve. 

“If you take a wheel and you color it with all these different colors, like a rainbow … and you cause that thing to spin and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh there are so many colors,’ and it’s just going,” Mueller said. “That’s kind of what we’re trying to create here, having all these wonderful gifts and talents, businesses, the nonprofit  — have all that here so everyone can taste and see all the wonderful things that we have to offer here in Sandpoint. There’s a place and a space for everyone.”