AUBURN — DeKalb County’s historian will go to bat for the county’s most historic structure.

John Bry said Monday he will apply for a grant to help repair the deck of the Spencerville Covered Bridge, built in 1873 over the St. Joseph River.

Bry offered his help to the DeKalb County Commissioners, who are looking for money to fix the bridge. It has been closed since early October, when an inspection discovered rotting timbers on one end.

Bry will seek a historic preservation grant through the state Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, he said. It could bring up to $50,000, which would have to be matched by local funds.

“The bridge would be a very strong candidate” for a grant, Bry said, because it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. He added, “It would be a good time to raise our hand and try to get some money for the bridge.”

Commissioners last week received an estimated price for repairing the bridge from USI Consultants of Indianapolis.

Replacing the rotted support timbers would cost $162,000. Replacing the wooden floor, which has developed holes that pose a tripping hazard, would cost $111,000, USI estimated.

Commissioners said they expect to pay for the support timbers from county tax money. They proposed seeking donations for replacing the floor.

After reading The Star’s news story about the bridge situation, Bry traveled to Monday’s meeting from Oakland County, Michigan, where he serves as principal planner for the county’s Main Street program.

Also Monday, commissioners heard DeKalb County Treasurer Sandra Wilcox repeat her previous requests for a drop box outside the courthouse in Auburn. She said DeKalb is one of only a few counties in Indiana without an outside drop box for tax payments.

Commissioners were discussing the courthouse’s northeast corner as the site for a drop box. The style of box and how to mount it remain undecided.

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