Page 1

COMMEMORATIVE SECTION Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bristol’s 225th

Bristol’s Main Street looking north from the old post office circa 1955

Mum City keeps on blooming PAGE 3

Bristol goes from church society to city

Bristol roars into the Industrial Age



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2 | Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Bristol Press |


The following made major contributions to the production of this special section: The Bristol 225th anniversary commitee: Bob Montgomery, Bill Englert, Tom LaPorte, Linda DiMatteo, Michele Boyko and Judy Murrone. Also Jay Manewitz, Bristol collection librarian, from The Bristol Public Library. Mary Suchopar of the mayor’s office.

City of Bristol


R E S P I C E, A D S P I C E, P R O S P I C E Look to the Past, Look to the Present, Look to the Future


August 15, 2010

To My Fellow Citizens, In keeping with the spirit of our City’s 225th Anniversary, I would like to offer my congratulations to all of Bristol‘s residents and friends as we celebrate this historic milestone. Since 1785, our town has been a story of ambition and ingenuity told through the generations that have successfully met and overcome the challenges presented by growth and transformation. I am confident our City will continue to prosper and move forward in a future filled with opportunities and hope for all of its citizens. Please enjoy the year’s ongoing celebrations and be proud of our/your heritage. Sincerely,

Arthur J. Ward Mayor of Bristol

City Hall


Photos were contributed by the Bristol Public Library, Tom LaPorte, Tom Dickau, Lynda Russell and Arcadia Publishing. Cover photo of Main Street in the 1950s provided by Tom Dickau

FunWorks sponsors thanked The Bristol 225th anniversary committee thanks the following who are among the major sponsors FunWorks activities The Barnes Group Renaissance Downtowns at Bristol

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The Bristol Press|

Sunday, August 15, 2010 | 3

Mum City keeps blooming

During its heyday, New Departure was likened to a “Town Within a Town.”


THE EARLY DAYS Bristol 1728-1785

The first permanent settler in Bristol was Ebenezer Barnes in 1728. He came here to build on property originally set out for his father, Thomas. Ebenezer built a house on the corner of what is now Broad and King streets and it stood for many years before being demolished in the 1930s. Barnes’ decendants have remained here as one of Bristol’s first families, being national, state and city leaders and overseers of the Barnes Group, one of Bristol’s largest and oldest employers for over a century. Second came Nehemiah Manross. He was the first to settle in the section of Bristol later known as Forestville. He and his descendants, like those of the Barnes family, have wooven places of honor in the rich fabric of the city’s history. The former Manross home on Central Street was given to the city in 1950 to be used as a library. It was later torn down and was replaced by a new library facility which is known as the Frederick N. Manross Library. During the area’s early decades, families were spread out and many sought the hills to live, such as Chippens Hill and Fall Mountain. Farming was the longday’s work as families grew their own food and owned livestock when possible. The woman and children helped the men with the tedious list of farm chores. Two gristmills to grind corn and other grains, a sawmill to provide wood to build homes and a fulling mill to make clothing encompassed Bristol’s first manufacturing.

Ebenezer Barnes house on the corner of King and Broad streets was built by the city’s first permanent settle in 1728. It lasted until the 1930s.

Church services were held in Farmington and this was a tedious task for those in New Cambridge, as the area was known, as far as travel went. Bad roads and even poorer conditions during the colder months directed town leaders to appeal for a closer place to worship. Eventually, this situation lead to the creation of a new town which became Bristol in 1785. The 19th century was a period of growth and change, which will be discussed elsewhere in this section.

MODERN TIMES 1900-current

At the turn of the 20th century, Bristol was continuing to grow, in population, housing and industry. As far as local politics, there was a need for change and 17

years after the borough form of government came into effect it was replaced with a city charter in 1911. This allowed political leaders to oversee many more aspects of life within the borders of Bristol, not just its centralized borough downtown. John Wade was elected Bristol’s mayor that year in an election that encompassed illegal goings-on, that of missing ballots. The man who ran against him, George W. Hull, was Bristol’s preeminent Socialist and a city leader. Downtown Bristol was developing rapidly and many of the most important structures remaining today were built at that time. For example, the building where the Bristol Press is now housed was built in 1904. The New Bristol Bank and the Curtis (or Curtiss) Block appeared during the period years 1903 and 1904. The Bristol Public Library, located in a large home of the corner of Main and High streets, was replaced by a new structure in 1906.

The former Bristol Post Office on Main Street was built during 1900-1910 era and the railroad overpass on Main was completed in the early 1900s to promote safety and expedite movement on the street. Sports had been and were becoming part of the city’s leisure pleasure and in 1912 the area now known as Muzzy Field was given to the city by Adrian Muzzy. In 1914, Muzzy Field hosted its first game. There, several storied games were played, including two played by Babe Ruth, first in 1919. In 1926, the New Departure baseball team, with many top players from around the East, beat the 1925 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates in an exhibition game. The lists of teams and players seen at Muzzy since read like a “Whose Who” of baseball and football. These include baseball Hall of Famers Casey Stengel, as Boston Braves manager, Wade Boggs and Jim Rice and football Hall of Famers Don Hudson and Vince Lombardi. The biggest manufacturing news during the 1910-1920 era came when United Motors, later General Motors, acquired New Departure. This manufacturer became Bristol’s No. 1 employer for many decades before officially closing its door in the 1990s. During its heyday, New Departure was likened to a “Town Within a Town,” providing workers with sports activities, a company newspaper, and good benefits and pay. One of the saddest days Bristol had to hear about was the day eight members of Bristol’s Company D, which suffered heavy See MUM CITY, Page ?

FunWorks: Games and fireworks today

FunWorks offers a full day of activities today to celebrate Bristol’s 225th anniversary. All events are free.

Page Park

Whiffleball (noon to 6 p.m.) Volleyball (noon to 6 p.m.)

Sack race (2 p.m.) Carnival games (noon to 6 p.m.) Basketball (noon to 6 p.m.) Hoola Hoop, musical chairs, limbo at the Band Shell (1 to 2 p.m.) Fishing (noon to 6 p.m. at Lagoon) Free swim (1 to 5:30 p.m.)

Dunk tank (noon to 6 p.m.)


Begin at 8:30 p.m. Some suggested viewing areas are Chippens Hill MS and the Roberts property See MUM CITY, Page ?


4 | Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Bristol Press |

Bristol’s changing landmarks

Bristol Hospital, shown in this 1920s photograph from the Bristol Library collection, took its first patients in 1922.

Getting to The Bristol Press and Pete Carros’ popular diner, located where a parking lot now sits,was difficult during this snowstorm of 1934 but both were open.

INDEX OF ADVERTISERS Applewood Restaurant/Bar 820 Farminton Ave.

Carvel 641 Farmington Ave.

Harvest Bakery 84 Farmington Ave.

Rybczyk Plumbing 45 Palmorr Pl.

Atlantic Health Care 48 Landner Rd.

City True Vallue Hardware 750 Farminton Ave.

L J’s Pizza 101 Maple Street.

Shady Oaks 344 Steavens St.

Aqua Terra Restaurant 253 East St.

Atlantic Percision Spring 125 Ronzo Rd.

Beekley Medical Products One Prestige Ln. Beltone 123 Farminton Ave. Best Built Sheds 551 Broad St.

Boys & Girl Club 105 Laruel St. Briar Rosa 122 Maple St.

Bristol Commons 99 Farmington Ave. Bristol Glass 116 Riverside Ave. Bristol Hospital 41 Brewster Rd.

Bristol Plaza Merchants Route 6/Hefburn Rd.

Chamber of Commerce Bristol 200 Main St.

Cliff ’s Automotive 1 Prospect Ave.

Country Manor 508 Farmington Ave. CV Manson 254 Main St.

Hear-Rite Hearing 461 N Main St.

Lee Po 1066 Farmington Ave. Lee Springs 245 Lake Ave.

Marinelli’s 175 Monce Rd.

Denny’s Transmition-Auto Care Medical Arts Health/Nutrition 548 Middle St. 140 Pine St. Feet First 99 Farmington Ave.

Firestone 700 Farmington Ave.

Firestone 780 James P Casey Rd. Frankie’s 1195 Farmington Ave. Funk Funeral Home 35 Bellevue Ave.

Grand Rantal Station 246 Terryville Rd.

Ninety Nine Restaurant 827 Pine St.

Nuchie’s 164 Canal St.

Oasis Restaurant 782 Pine St..

Peter Fredricks Salon 91 Pine St. Place To Grow Too 271 Enterprise Dr. Ross Auto Parts 470 Terryville Rd.

Schaffer Co 242 Main St.

Shaffer 242 Main St.

Shannon’s Jewlers 4 Farmington Ave.

The Orchards, Southington 34 Hobart St. Tunxis Comm College 271 Farmington Ave. Valley Cab 320 East St.

Wojtusk Nursery 750 Terryvile Ave. Wolfs Wine & Spiruts 641 Farmington Ave. Your Eyes Optical 927 Farmington Ave. Verizon Wireless Zone 122 Maple St.


6 | Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Bristol Press |

From a church society to a city 19TH CENTURY Self rule begins By THOMAS DICKAU

Less than a decade after the War for Independence began, the Connecticut General Assembly in 1785 granted the two settlements, New Cambridge (Bristol) and West Britain (Burlington), independent town status. Separated from Farmington, the citizens were free to govern themselves and were no longer responsible to their respective Congregational Societies, whom previously were the official governing bodies. Although the town was officially named as Bristol, the respective areas still referred to themselves as New Cambridge and West Britain except during official legal procedures. The naming of Bristol remains a mystery but was probably designated this way at the discretion of the General Assembly. West Britain with a larger population than Bristol divided from Bristol in 1806 and became the town of Burlington. During the town’s initial years its economy was based on a selfsustaining agricultural existence. Most needs were independently or locally satisfied, however, an occasional journey to Farmington or Hartford might be necessary to provide for specific necessities. By the turn of the 19th century, rudimentary signs of an emerging industrialization were becoming apparent. The first retail industry was that of potash production. This product was used as a fertilizer for crop production. In the late 18th century tin shops also began to evolve. These shops made up an excellent “cottage industry” during the long winter months. The clock making industry was initiated as early as 1790 when Gideon Roberts began the production of wooden clock movements. During the early 1800’s Roberts became a pioneer leader in mass production techniques. Utilizing machinery to make clock parts instead of hand-crafting each piece these

The current home of the Elks Club on South and George streets is shown before the east wing was removed. The building was built for clockmaker Chauncey Jerome in 1832 and was later owned by Edward Dunbar. About a decade ago, the house faced demolition but was saved by the Elks.

techniques produced more standard, accurate and less expensive clocks. Unfortunately, Roberts died in1813 of typhoid fever. From around 1800-1840 the Industrial Revolution continued to change the Bristol economic landscape. Peddlers began to seek new markets for their tin ware products, clocks and a variety of other locally produced items. First on foot or by horseback and later using wagons, these peddlers traveled throughout Connecticut and beyond seeking markets for their wares. They were, however, often hampered by the rugged terrain they had to journey. As transportation improved their circuits widened and markets in the South were opened. An individual’s travel might cover 1,500 miles on a single trip.


By 1810 the tin ware business was in decline. Clock sales were found to be more profitable and brought more capital back to Bristol to invest in future growth. It should be pointed out that the tin ware routes and the concept of peddling contributed greatly to the rapid expansion of clock making in Bristol.

The clock making business, however, was hampered during this time by inadequate transportation systems and by the lack of regulation and solvency within the national banking system. Transportation improvements were developed within a short period of time. However, it took two major banking crashes before structures were set in place that would prevent future calamities and would also afford the stability needed for future growth. Many businesses were bankrupted during the time of these banking disasters. Although banking in Bristol was non-existent at this time, the community was quite fortunate that merchants George Mitchell and Thomas Barnes Jr., acting as “”unofficial private bankers,” provided capital for business investments. Being shrewd businessmen there were “strings attached” to these investments that favored Mitchell and Barnes. The clock making industry, however, was greatly enhanced by their entrepreneurial spirit. During the first half century, mass production techniques and other advances in clock making, such as the replacement of wooden gears by brass movements, bolstered the industry.

Those shops that were unable to adjust to the changing times were either consolidated into larger factories or “fell by the wayside”. Along with Roberts, players such as Chauncey Jerome, Joseph Ives, Elijah Manross, Samuel Terry, Chauncey Boardman, Elias Ingraham and Jonathan C. Brown were prominent in this field. It is estimated that in 1820 one third of the town’s residents were involved in manufacturing with the majority employed by small clock shops. During this decade over 40 small shops were involved within this industry. By mid-century the majority of small shops had disappeared as

larger firms either drove them out of business or merged them into their establishments. The growth of the clock-making industry, as well as, other lines of production was greatly assisted by essential transportation developments in the first half of the 19th century. Without these improvements our city’s growth would have been significantly hampered. Transportation improvements were imperative to move finished products to markets and to acquire essentials and needed raw materials for future production. In the early 1800s, roads still oftentimes followed old Indian trails; were terribly underdeveloped and overgrown; and became barely passable during the rainy or winter seasons. Only light loads could be conveyed over these roads and a ten-miles-a-day trip was an accomplishment. In 1804, the Middle Road Turnpike Co. developed a route in northern Bristol that somewhat parallels today’s Route 6. Stagecoach lines carrying people and commodities could now travel these routes with greater speed. Not only were they a source of travel, but also served as an early means of disseminating news from distant places when the stages stopped at local taverns or post offices. Bristol’s first post office was opened on this route in 1812. Another major change took place with the completion of the Northampton Canal in 1828. Proposed by George See 19TH CENTURY, Page 8

The William Ingraham house on Summer Street changed owners recently

The Bristol Press|


Sunday, August 15, 2010 | 7

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The Bristol Press |


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The Ingram House on Summer Street is shown in about 1900. It later became the home of Dr. William Furniss.

19th century: Canal, railroad Continued from Page 6

Mitchell in 1822 this canal connected the Connecticut River at Northampton with the city of New Haven. An extraordinary engineering feat, through a series of manmade canals and locks people and goods could travel from as far as Massachusetts to the New Haven harbors where products could be shipped throughout the country. A portion of the canal system ran through the Farmington plains to Plainville. This part of the canal became known as “The Bristol Basin”, because of the enormous utilization by Bristol manufacturers. The turnpikes served as a feeder to the canal system. The direct result of this feeder system was the greater opportunity for economic and industrial development of inland cities such as Bristol. In 1850 when the Hartford, Providence and Fishskill Railway was extended from Plainville through Forestville to Bristol another improvement in transportation occurred. The tracks were constructed mainly by Irish immigrants fleeing the extended and severe famines of their mother-country. Some of these immigrants had previously worked at the Bristol Copper

Mines at the end of Stafford Avenue near the Burlington town line. The copper mines had opened in 1837 and at one time were the largest copper producing mines in the country. Competition from mines that were able to extract and process ore less expensively combined with the impending financial crisis caused the mines to become insolvent and they went out of business in 1857. Some of the Irish workers had transitioned to the railroad and assisted in its local extension. Once completed the railroad had the ability to carry larger volumes of people and commodities in less time, thus bringing the use of the Northampton Canal to an end. As mentioned previously, banking at the national level had little regulation and suffered from a lack of central control. There were no regulations and currency issuance was based on the availability of a printing press. There was little hard cash to back these notes. A nationwide over expansion of credit developed and a scarcity of money became apparent.

A portion of the canal system ran through the Farmington plains to Plainville. This part of the canal became known as “The Bristol Basin”, because of the enormous utilization by Bristol manufacturers.

See PANIC, Page 9

The Bristol Press|

BRISTOL’S 225TH This house on the corner of High and Main streets was purchased around 1894 as the first permanent home of the Bristol Public Library.

Panic of 1837 hits city Continued from Page 8

In 1837, the banks having little collateral to support their activities were unable to supply capital to sustain or develop business. A financial panic ensued with bank and business failures quickly following. Only one third of Bristol’s clock makers were able to survive bankruptcy. Financer George Mitchell went bankrupt while Tom Barnes was able to survive the disaster. (Editorial Note-This sounds very familiar to the present time. History does repeat itself. If we don’t remember or choose to ignore the past, similar times can reoccur.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010 | 9

Congratulations to Bristol for Its 225 Years

1865 Location

1889 Location

Several businesses were able to overcome these difficult financial circumstances. The Ingraham Clock Co., the Jerome Clock Co. and the Bristol Manufacturing Co. can be listed as survivors. The Bristol Manufacturing Co., which produced knitted woolen undergarments, had been formed by a group of clock makers just before the crash. They had foreseen the need for diversification in order to survive. (Tom Dickau is a local historian and postcard collector. Many of the images in this section are from his collection.)

Happy 225th Anniversary, Bristol! We are delighted to be part of you! Victoria Rose Biondi MD & Associates Giulia E. Lau, DO Judy Kay Morris, CNM A Division of Physician for Womenís Health

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10 | Sunday, August 15, 2010


The Bristol Press |

Bristol roars into the Industrial Age Age of Welch, Sessions By THOMAS DICKAU

Encouraged by the spirit and capital brought back to the area from the 1849 California Gold Rush, the 1850s was a time of tremendous business expansion in Bristol. Harry S. Bartholomew, a major stockholder in the copper mines, and Isaac Pierce, a partner at Lake Compounce, were amongst those from the Bristol and California Co. that returned after seeking their fortune. The Bristol Brass and Clock Co. was founded in 1850 in order to locally produce brass for the clock industry. Never again would local companies have to be reliant on out-of-town concerns for this essential resource. The lessons of 1837 were not well-learned. Over-expansion of business (especially clock making within Bristol), lack of banking regulations, and inadequate capital once again reared its ugly head in 1857 in the form of a financial depression that proved even more significant than that of 1837. See INDUSTRIAL, Page 12

The Sessions Clock Co., the successor to the Welch Clock Co., had a major plant in Forestville center.

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Thank You! Bristol, Connecticut • EOE

The Bristol Press|


Sunday, August 15, 2010 | 11

12 | Sunday, August 15, 2010


The Bristol Press |

Industrial era brings diversification to Bristol

Continued from Page 10

Most businesses within the community went bankrupt because of their concentration in clock making. Only well-prepared businesses with innovative leadership were able to survive. The next 20 years can rightfully be called the “Age of Elisha Welch.”. The Jonathan C. Brown Co. in Forestville had gone bankrupt and the Bristol Brass and Clock Co. was on the brink of a similar disaster. If it were not for the creative arrangements which Welch was able to orchestrate, both companies certainly would have been lost to the Bristol community. Welch, possessed a business genius, as well as, excellent business and financial networks. As president of the Bristol Brass Co. he was able to divert finished materials to the J.C. Brown Co., which he had taken over being a principal stockholder. In this way, he assisted in keeping both companies afloat. He later reorganized the Brown Clock Co., naming it the E.N. Welch Clock Co.. This company was falling into disarray after his death and was purchased by William E. Sessions in 1903 and was renamed the Sessions Clock Co. This company and the Bristol Brass Corporation would continue to contribute to the community for many

more years. Welch, also through strategic acquisitions of collapsed businesses, was able to reorganize several of these and bring them back as successful businesses. The years 1870 to 1880 witnessed a rapid and dramatic increase in the city’s population due to the development of new industries and the need for workers. With the stabilization of banking after the Civil War, Bristol witnessed the founding of the Bristol Savings Bank in 1871 and the Bristol National Bank in 1875. Capital now became available locally for further expansion. During the second half of the century, but especially in its last three decades, business growth and development changed our city from a rural to urban community. Within this limited space only a partial list of these companies can be described. Shortly after the Panic of 1857, Elisha N. Welch purchased the bankrupt Tuttle and Holmes Co., which stood on the corner of Main Street and what is now Memorial Boulevard. This company was a major producer of silverware. He also purchased in 1868 the lantern factory of George W. Brown, which stood on the corner of Brook Street and Stafford Avenue in Forestville. Both companies would become subsidiaries

Employees of The Bristol Press, first published in 1871, stand outside the 99 Main St. offices wearing rain gear in this photo taken in 1923.

of the Bristol Brass Co. utilizing its finished products to produce silverware (The American Silver Co.) and lanterns (The Bristol Brass Burner Shop). A reorganized E. Ingraham Clock Co., under the direction of Edward Ingraham started successful production around 1865. The Dunbar Spring Co. continued with its

successful spring-making and was joined by the Wallace Barnes Co. in 1863. These companies would eventually merge along with other concerns being known as the Associated Spring Company. See ECONOMY, Page 18

Thomaston Savings Bank Congratulates the City of Bristol on its th 225 Anniversary!



The Bristol Press|

Sunday, August 15, 2010 | 13


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14 | Sunday, August 15, 2010


The Bristol Press |

Page from history

This was the home of the Page family, prominent in the manufacturing history of Bristol and as benefactors whose property became the park bearing their name. The Grove Street mansion is shown here in the 1920s. Built in 1917 for DeWitt Page and Mae (nee Rockwell) Page, it was demolished in November 1971 due to “extreme vandalism, ” according to the Bristol Public Library . The sidewalk and steps in the foreground are still visible today.

The Bristol Press|


Sunday, August 15, 2010 | 15

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The Bristol Press |

Hall of local fame On a hill above West Street, Brightwood Hall was constructed of locally quarried granite and became the home of doorbell, coaster brake and ball bearing entrepreneur Albert Rockwell and his wife Agnes. The Rockwells donated the land for Rockwell Park, Mrs. Rockwell’s Playground and other sites in the city. Brightwood Hall was eventually dismantled around 1936 with the Bristolstone used to build a church in New Britain.

The Bristol Press|


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The Bristol Press |

Mum City survived Depression with help from Page Continued from Page 3

losses at the Battle of Seicheprey in France on April 18, 1918, were killed. The men f rom Bristol were seeing their first action and took great casualties and injuries during this World War I. In honor of these men, the Bristol American Legion, Post 2, later added Seicheprey to its name. A need for a hospital became

evident after the influenza outbreak in 1918 and a campaign through The Bristol Press brought in the money for a facility that took its first patients in 1922 and has been expanding ever since. During the 1920s, Bristol saw its second building completed to be the city’s high school. The building on Summer Street was over-populated, thus a new Bristol High School was built

and opened in 1922. Albert F. Rockwell, considered by local historians as Bristol’s No. 1 benefactor, owned property in the area and said he would donate acreage and funds so that both a boulevard and a high school be built in this area. Memorial Boulevard, one of Bristol’s great treasures, was opened officially that same year. Rockwell also gave the community Rockwell Park. Wooden

school buildings were replaced by brick during this decade and the Boys Club of Bristol saw its new Laurel Street facility completed. New Departure, of course, remained Bristol’s largest employer and the E. Ingraham Co., a clock-maker, was second. The Depression hit most everyone during the late 1920s and early 1930s, including the City of Bristol. However, thanks to DeWitt Page, whose family later gave us Page Park, the city was able to get a loan from a New York bank to hold it together. Jobs were scarce and those who suradditional and needed services. vived this downturn would always As Bristol entered the 20th century, it was apparent that a more efficient and responsive form of government was required. These were the foreshadowing of Bristol moving towards a city form of government.

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The Bristol Manufacturing Co. continued to successfully produce knit undergarments. The Clayton Manufacturing Co. (table cutlery and shear production-1866); the J.H. Sessions C. (trunk hardware-1857); the Sessions Foundry (forged metal castings-1879) and the New Departure Co. (bells, coaster brakes, and bearings — 1888) were established during these years and contributed significantly to the Bristol community. As the transition from an agricultural to an industrial community transpired it became apparent that there was a need for services and institutions to be responsive to the everyday circumstances of its citizens. The following were established to address these challenges: the Bristol Press-first published in 1871; a free public library opened in 1892; the first permanent high sSchool graduated its first class in 1892; trolley service became available in 1895; telephone services were initiated in 1884; the Bristol Electric Light Co. was established in 1885; the Bristol Water Co. started its development in 1884; and the Bristol Fire Department ,which began in

1853, was enlarged to accommodate the developing town. As the town continued to grow an incorporated borough was created in 1893. One square mile surrounding the center of town fell within its jurisdiction. Citizens within this area were privileged to receive such accommodations as law enforcement and sanitation services. These services required that the people within the borough pay additional taxes. A borough government was initiated to handle these affairs. The borough and town form of governance worked successfully until agitation commenced both from within and outside the borough. The borough citizens didn’t want services extended outside their area because they were paying the additional taxes. The residents outside this area challenged the town to provide


Continued from Page 12

remember the bad times in later years in being frugal with their money and savings throughout their lifetime. Sports became more of an everyday form of entertainment during this era as the New Departure basketball and baseball teams played the best around and Bristol High began to win a number of state basketball championships, and at the New England level. Tommy M. Monahan, who came to Bristol before World War I, had coached the West End football team before taking on the duties of football, basketball and

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The Bristol Press|


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20 | Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sport’s ‘golden era’ Continued from Page 18

baseball coach at Bristol High a few years later. These became known as the “Golden Years of Bristol High Sports.” World War II was the next big challenge for Bristol as well as the country. Bristol industries began manufacturing war products and many women joined the work force. Bristol sent men into military service with 143 making the supreme sacrifice. This was a war in which all residents of Bristol were touched in sacrificing food and items of pleasure, fathers in uniform and their normal everyday routine. After the war, Bristol enjoyed a growth spurt. These were the best of times to grow up in as far as being a “Baby Boomer.” Bristol saw new grammar schools being built and in the late 1950s, Bristol High became Bristol Central as the new Bristol Eastern High opened its door in the fall of 1959. A new Bristol Central High facility was opened off Wolcott Street almost a decade later. Jobs were plentiful and these were the days when mom stayed


home and raised the kids, while dad drove off to work in the family’s one and only car, many times to city and nearby manufacturing firms. Changes took place with redevelopment in downtown Bristol during the late 1950s through 1960s. The Centre Mall was established off Main and North Main streets while the Bristol Plaza was developed off Farmington Avenue. Things were changing and fast food chains were growing as was the northeast section of the city. It’s evidenced even more today with the thrust of new, modern businesses appearing on the far, eastern end of Farmington Avenue. Many homes along the stretch of Farmington Avenue from the old firehouse to the borders of Farmington have become commercial properites. Growing up in this decade, as it was during the 1950s, was fun and more simple than those that followed. In 1962, city leaders and the Chamber of Commerce combined efforts to have an annual festival held in early fall and it was first entitled, the Fall Festival. The following year it was labeled the Chrysanthemum

The Bristol Press |

The Rockwell Lagoon was popular with bathers for much of the 20th century. Rockwell Park, a gift to the city from the Rockwell family, has reecently gone through a massive overhaul.

Festival and in later years, Mum Fest. Beginning in the 1970s, because of the economy, more mothers had to go to work to help the family. Rising gas prices, food and other items made it necessary. Toward the end of this “Me Decade” the number of day care centers increased as did the number of church-goers seeking comfort from the rising modern-day problems.and See BRISTOL, Page 22


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The Bristol Press |

Bristol’s changing scene may mean new nickname Continued from Page 20

and exercise also became popular and remains so today. The Bristol Press rated the 1970s as a “A Good Decade” overall. But at the start, things didn’t look so good. In fact, the NBC news show “First Tuesday” presented a grim picture of Bristol and the area in a 1971 broadcast profile. It was a time of spiraling unemployment. Two years later, the show was off the air and Bristol was rising. Large firms grew in the area which contributed to revitalizing the economy. The opening in 1979 of the Barnes Group international headquarters in Bristol was the capstone of a decade’s growth here. By the 1980s, Bristol saw deindustrialization take place. Eventually, Bristol Brass, one of the largest and oldest manufacturers would close its door for good in 1984. A decade or so later, the same happened to New Departure, once Bristol’s largest employer. Fortunately for Bristol, ESPN made its appearance in the city, helping set off some losses and is Bristol’s largest taxpayer today. People were now seeking work

By the 1980s, Bristol saw de-industrialization take place. Eventually, Bristol Brass, one of the largest and oldest manufacturers would close its door for good in 1984.

in smaller factories or in larger cities like Hartford, the insurance capital. During this decade, area non-manufacturing jobs increased from 13,370 in 1980 to 19,020 in 1989 in the greater Bristol area. The number of manufacturing jobs declined from just over 10,000 in 1980 to 7,650 in late 1989. Lake Compounce was sold by the Norton family after 100 years of ownership. The largest community event, was the Bristol Bicentennial celebration during 1985. It gave Bristolites a year-long chance to

take pride in their heritage. During the early 1990s, The Eastern Regional Little League complex was built off Mix Street and now two winners are sent off each year to the Little League World Series from the tournament here in August. Bristol has been faced with the problem of the Centre Mall, now an empty lot with plans to correct this. The mall slowly lost its key stores and through the past 20 years suffered in a downward spiral. One more noticeable change in the city was the growth of the Hispanic community. This brought new churches and shops to the city. The end of Bristol’s famed mum growers ended eight months ago when Jerry Heresko, owner of Bristol Mums, died. He carried on the tradition of mum production on a small parcel of property once part of the former Bristol Nurseries, established in the early 1920s and folded during the 1980s. There was talk of a railroad passenger system coming to Bristol and the opening of the Route 72 extention, almost 30 years in the making, should take


Happy 225th Anniversary Bristol! Extablished 1987

place this year. It’s hoped that this will bring people to Bristol to shop, tour and leisure. The Bristol Centre Mall property will be part of the key as Bristol continues its quest to better itself. Bristol was ranked No. 84 this year for a city its size by Money magazine and when you factor in all the positive things here, it can make sense. WehaveESPN,LakeCompounce, Muzzy Field, the Eastern Regional Little League complex and a number of museums with reasons for out-of-towners wanting to visit. Despite the naysayers who will

never be satisfied, Bristol is making and has always made a great effort in bettering itself and this will continue in the future. Bristol has been known as the Bell City because of New Departure’s early production of bicycle bells, the Mum City because it was once the Chrysanthemum growing capital of the world, and sometime down the road may come up with a new moniker, as yet, undetermined. (Bob Montgomery is president of the Bristol Historical Society and official Bristol historian.)

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The Bristol Press|

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Sunday, August 15, 2010 | 23

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24 | Sunday, August 15, 2010

New book traces business history


Just in time to be part of the city’s 225th anniversary celebration, a new book, “Bristol Business and Industry,” which explores the history of local commerce, will be released Monday. Lynda Russell, a Bristol resident since 1971, authored the book with assistance from Arcadia Publishing as part of its “Images of America” series. This is Russell’s fourth book focusing on the Mum City and its surrounding areas. Russell’s previous titles include “Bristol Historic Homes,” “Lake Compounce” and “Plainville.” The new book is arranged in a photo and caption format that leads the reader through the commercial history of Bristol from the foundation of the town to the present. According to Russell’s


introduction to the book, Bristol became a town when representatives petitioned to separate from Farmington, of which Bristol was a part until June 1785. Early on, the book indicates, there was a range of industry in Bristol, including saw, textiles and cutlery manufacturers. But the town was well known for its clock manufacturing. Featured in the book is the E. Ingraham Co., which took over production of the popular “Dollar Watch” from the Ingersoll Watch Co. in 1881. While researching material for the book, Russell was introduced to people with private photo collections of Bristol from all time periods. Photos include an image of former Red Sox player Ted Willams holding a fish he caught with a Horton fishing pole made at the Horton Manufacturing Company. Others show employees at Harvest Bakery, which is

The Bristol Press |

Show in the 1930s, Bristol Brass, which was a longtime industrial leader in Bristol before closing, is among the businesses featured in Lynda Russell’s new book.

still in business and, of course, the ESPN studios. Russell described each photo as a mystery that motivates her to learn more about the town. Many of the photos show a large brick factory with tall glass windows in the background in front of which sits the whole workforce, many of whom display eager smiles. See BOOK, Page ?

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The Bristol Press|




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26 | Sunday, August 15, 2010


The Bristol Press |

City of faith

Youngsters line up outside an earlier version of St. Joseph Church in this photo take about 110 years ago. The Roman Catholic parish was organized in the 1850s. Bristol’s First Congregational Church, however, is the oldest congregation in what is now Bristol. According to Norton’s 1899 history of the city, in a 1744 act of the General Assembly, an ecclesiastical society was formed, under the name of New Cambridge. Thus was organized the Bristol Congregational Church and Society, a longtime focalpoint of the community on Federal Hill, even withstanding damage to its sign during a recent tornado.

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The Bristol Press|

Sunday, August 15, 2010 | 27

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The Bristol Press |

Places for fun

The Bristol Boys Club, right, opened in 1929 on Laurel Street. The expanded Bristol Boys and Girls Club plans to move to West Street. Tracing its origins to an unsuccessful plan to “blow up” the lake in October 1846, Lake Compounce is considered the nation’s longest continually operating amusement park although ownership, held by the Norton family for decades, has changed several times




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The Bristol Press|

Sunday, August 15, 2010 | 29

Chance to ‘meet’ 19th century Bristol woman Rayno, a Bristol High School graduate and current resident of Southbury, a has been telling stories to children of all ages, 1 to 101” for many years at schools, libraries, hospitals, child and adult day-care centers, convalescent homes, assisted living facilities, senior centers, churches, stores, historical societies, museums,

parks and festivals, as well as at private parties. Rayno, neé Marcotte, has portrayed another 19th century Bristol teen, Candace Roberts, who is a contemporary of Sylvia. The Roberts diary has been in possession of the Bristol Public Library for some time. The DAR Museum in


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shared with the library transcripts of the period of Sylvia’s life which was spent in Bristol. Manewitz noted that Sylvia’s and Candace’s diaries were begun on the same date. Admission is free for members. Guest fee is $4. Light refreshments will be served. Attendance is limited to 100 people.




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Washington, D. C., had the Sylvia Lewis diaries. Candace was mentioned in Sylvia’s diary. Through research Alden O’Brien, Curator of Costumes and Textiles at the DAR Museum, learned of the Candace Roberts diary. O’Brien contacted Jay Manewitz, the Bristol Public Library’s historical research librarian, and has


Joyce Marie Rayno, will take on the persona of Sylvia Lewis based on writings in the 19th century woman’s diary Thursday at the Bristol Historical Society, 98 Summer St. at 7 p.m. This is part of a series of programs offered by the Bristol Historical Society during Bristol’s 225th anniversary celebration.



30 | Sunday, August 15, 2010


Saturday, Sept. 18 (1 p.m.) — at Bristol Public Library

BOOK SIGNINGS Wednesday (5 p.m. ) — at Lake Compounce

Continues from Page 24

Thursday 9 (5 p.m.) -- at American Clock and Watch Museum Saturday, Aug. 28 (noon) — at Bristol Historical Society

Saturday, Sept. 25 (10 a.m.) and Sunday, Sept. 26 (1p.m.) — at Bristol Mum Festival Saturday, Oct. 16 (4 p.m.) — American Clock and Watch Museum Saturday, Nov. 6 (11 a.m.) — at Kathy’s Hallmark

Crown Oil, shown in mid-1960s, is in Lynda Russell’s new book.

Jerry Heresko, whom Russell credits with inspiring her to write the four books. Heresko was the owner of Bristol Mums, Inc., participating in his own Bristol business and industry. Copies of the book will be available at online retailers like, Arcadiapublishing. com, Barnes and Noble and local retailers.

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The images show the scale of the work that was done and the people who were involved. Some of the businesses included in Russell’s book are still a fixture in Bristol. C.V. Mason and Co., a local insurance firm, has endured, although under slightly different names, since 1882. Chris Wilson, the agency’s owner, says that C.V. Mason’s legacy in Bristol business is something that the firm wants to preserve, protect and keep going. Likewise, Wilson recognized an affinity the agency has for Bristol. “We are a part of the fabric of the business community at large,” he said. Wilson noted that C.V. Mason has been a downtown fixture since the company was established. Other businesses featured in Russell’s book which can trace their foundation in Bristol since before the 1950s include Crown Oil Co. on Riverside Avenue and Harvest Bakery on Farmington Avenue. Russell has put all the money from her books back into the community. She donates all of the proceeds to local museums, historical societies and even established a $500 scholarship at Tunxis Community College. The royalties from her new book will go to the American Clock and Watch Museum on Maple Street. Russell dedicated the book to

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The Bristol Press: Bristol's 225th Anniversary  
The Bristol Press: Bristol's 225th Anniversary  

Celebration of 225 years of Bristol, CT history