Here, at the site of an early ferry over the Flint River, Col. Nelson Tift, owner of bridge and ferry rights and the founder of Albany, had a toll bridge constructed by a well known bridge builder, a freed slave named Horace of Columbus. At the same time, in 1857, Col. Tift built this "Bridge House" with the archway serving as entrance to the bridge. The bridge keeper occupied one side of the ground floor; Col. Tift's office the other. The second floor was a theater, known as "Tift's Hall." Decorated by New York artists, it was considered the most beautiful in the State. Many leading actors & actresses — Laura Keene, Sothern, Mrs. Oates, Sol Smith Russell, Harry McCarthy, the Crisp family, the Templeton's ~ appeared on its stage. At this social center of Albany, dances, masked balls, public socials events were held.
During the War Between the States, the great cellars of this building were converted into packing houses and the back yard became a slaughter pen. Thousands of cattle, hogs, and sheep were barreled in pickle for the use of the Confederate Navy.