The house at 211 Washington Street in Forestville in Bristol was built in 1845. It later became the home of Mark F. Spelman, a farmer who purchased the farm on Washington Street, at the head of what is now Central Street, in 1873. The family had earlier lived in Granville, Massachusetts. Spellman’s daughter, Lila Adah Spelman (1866-1945), was born in Granville. She completed her elementary school education in Forestville, but then, because there was no high school in Bristol, she commuted daily by train from Forestville to the Hartford Public High School. She graduated in 1885, taught school in Southington and married William H. Rowe in 1889.
The brick commercial building at 242-244 Main Street in Bristol was built c. 1873 to house the Bristol Savings Bank. Organized in 1870 by Miles Lewis Peck, the bank was previously located in a building that was destroyed by fire in 1873. Bristol town offices were housed on the upper floor of the building until the turn of the century. The space was then occupied by the Bristol Chamber of Commerce. The building is now home to The Shaffer Company, Inc., a mechanical contracting company founded in 1890.
A chapter (called a “tribe”) of the Improved Order of Red Men was established in Bristol in 1890. The organization constructed a three-story brick meeting hall at 43 Prospect Street in Bristol in 1911. Designed by Walter Crabtree and built by B.H. Hubbard Co. of New Britain, the Redmen’s Hall had a state armory on the first floor and a meeting hall on an upper floor. Many town events were held in the hall in the early years of the twentieth century. In 1940 the building was renovated to become a movie theater called the Carberry Theater. The building is now owned by the Christian Fellowship Center.
At 82 Bellevue Avenue in Bristol is an American Foursquare house built c. 1920. It was originally the home of Roger S. Newell (who also once lived in the house at 101 Bellevue Avenue). As described in the Commemorative Biographical Record of Hartford County, Connecticut, Vol. I (1901):
Roger Samuel Newell was born in Bristol, Oct. 18, 1867, and received his academic education in the public schools of that town and of Hartford. He graduated from the Hartford Public High School in 1886, from Yale University in 1889, and from Yale Law School in 1891. He then read law in the office of John J. Jennings, Esq., of Bristol, and in 1891 was admitted to the Bar, after which he continuously practiced his chosen profession as a partner with his preceptor until the latter’s death, April 1, 1900. He was the first clerk of the borough of Bristol, in 1895 was elected judge of the town court, and in 1896 was elected judge of probate, to succeed Elbert E. Thorpe, on the latter’s decease. Socially he and his family are prominent, and he is a member of Franklin Lodge, No. 56, F. & A. M., and Pequabuck Chapter, R. A. M. In politics he is a Republican, and in religious belief a Congregationalist. Mr. Newell was, married in Bristol, Sept. 25, 1895, to Miss Adaline Birge, daughter of Senator John and Mary A. (Root) Birge.
The Italianate house at 105 High Street in Bristol was the home of Catharine R. Root. A school teacher in her youth, Catherine Roberts married Joel Henry Root in 1852. According to Bristol, Connecticut: “In the Olden Time New Cambridge” (1907), in 1859 Mr. and Mrs. Root moved into their house on High Street “where they have lived ever since and which was one of the very first houses to be built on that street.” This is probably the house 105 High Street, which is listed in the Federal Hill Historic District nomination as the “Catharine R. Root House” built c. 1870. Joel H. Root (died 1885) was a successful industrialist, who built a factory on Root’s Island that produced piano hardware and brass butt hinges. His son, Charles J. Root (1858-1907), continued the business and engaged in others, including real estate. On August 20, 1907, a car accident took the lives of Charles J. Root and his mother Catharine R. Root. As described in the Bristol Press (and reprinted in the 1907 history quoted above):
No happier party, comprising Charles Root, his mother, Catherine R. Root [who was eighty years old at the time], Miss Mary P. Root [his sister], Miss Candace Roberts [his aunt] and Miss Catherine Root, a fourteen years old niece [daughter of Theodore Root], left Bristol last Sunday, Aug. 18, 1907, and not many people enjoyed automobile riding so much as these people.
[. . .]
The party left here soon after nine o’clock Sunday morning. Mr. Root and Miss Roberts occupied the front seat of the big Stanley steam touring car. The other three were on the rear seat. The route led through Torrington and Norfolk which was reached about noon. From there the route was to Ashley Falls in Massachusetts. Near the Ashley Falls station the fine, hard highway runs parallel with the railroad tracks for perhaps a mile and is only a few feet distant. While the Root automobile was speeding along this road an overdue express train came in sight at terrific speed. The highway crosses the track at an abrupt angle. Express train and auto reached the fatal crossing almost at the same moment. Just how it happened can never be known but the automobile struck the train, probably the baggage car, a glancing blow and was instantaneously and completely wrecked. The occupants were hurled out with awful force, apparently striking their heads against the train, and were then carried some distance. All were frightfully mangled. Mr. Root and Miss Roberts were killed instantly. Mrs. Root had her skull fractured and died while being taken to Great Barrington. Miss Root had her skull fractured and her right shoulder crushed. She was removed to the House of Mercy in Pittsfield.
The only one to escape was Miss Catherine Root, and the manner in which she came through the crash is little short of miraculous. She was buried beneath the wreckage of the machine which for some unaccountable reason did not take fire. She was taken to the home of a friend in Great Barrington. She was dazed but appeared not to be seriously hurt, and was brought to the home of her parents, here, Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Root, on Monday.
Unfortunately, the young Miss Catherine Root died less than a year-and-a-half later, at Miss C. E. Mason’s School, The Castle, in Tarrytown, New York. As related in the Utica Herald-Dispatch on January 6, 1909:
While apparently only slightly injured at the time of the incident, Miss Root had suffered with convulsions since that time. Recently her health had been improving and she returned Monday from spending the holidays at her home and seemed in better health than ever.
Yesterday Miss Root had an attack and fell to the floor, striking her head on the edge of a box in her room. A trained nurse who stays at the school hurried to her assistance and Dr. Coulant, who lives Just outside the school grounds, was called in, but the young lady died of a hemorrhage of the brain before he arrived.
Happy New Year! We start the new year with an Italianate house in Bristol. Located at 19-21 Spring Street, it was built by Joel T. Case in 1881 and was the home of Walter E. Strong, owner of the South Side Market. The house is also known as the Arnold House.
The Greek Revival house at 14 (or 12) Washington Street in Bristol was built for Elisha Manross in 1832 (although the town assessors database lists it as 1740). Elisha Manross was a Bristol clock-maker. As related in Bristol, Connecticut (“In the Olden Time New Cambridge”) which Includes Forestville (1907):
Was born in Bristol, May 11, 1792, and became one of the pioneers of brass clock-making in America, making the first jeweled movements ever made here. He was a Captain in the war of 1812. and commanded a company of one hundred men to guard the coast at Fort Killingly. He was also Captain of the Bristol Artillery Company. He was a deacon and long a member of the Congregational Church in Bristol. Three of his sons were in the Civil War, Captain Newton, Sergeant Elias and John. He was an extensive land owner in Forestville, and conducted a large clock business. In 1821 he married Maria Cowles Norton. He died September 27, 1856.