According to the 1985 pamphlet Federal Hill: A series of walking tours of the Federal Hill neighborhood and of other areas of interest in Bristol, Connecticut, written and designed by C. Houihan, the 1842 house at 492 Jerome Avenue in Bristol was once the home of Bronson Alcott, the transcendentalist and father of author Louisa May Alcott. But Alcott’s stints as a teacher in Bristol occurred earlier than 1842. He taught for four months in the Fall Mountain District of Bristol in the winter of 1823-1824 and was at the district school on West Street for four months in 1824-1825. His last period as a teacher in Bristol came when he was again at the school on West Street for a few months, in the autumn and winter of 1827-1828. Does anyone know more about this house and its connection to Bronson Alcott?
The Martha J. Newell House is located at 89 High Street in Bristol. Built around 1870, it is an Italianate house that was once the residence of Martha Judd Brewster Newell (d. 1905). Mrs. Newell was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Women’s Board of Missions. She was the wife of Samuel Pomeroy Newell (1823-1888). According to The Brewster Genealogy, Vol. II (1908), compiled and edited by Emma C. Brewster Jones:
Samuel P. Newell was graduated from Yale Law School in 1848, and was a lawyer of extensive practice at Bristol. He served as U.S. internal revenue collector and was judge of Probate Court for the District of Bristol. His son-in-law, John J. Jennings, was his law partner.
The house at 16-18 Spring Street in Bristol was built in 1883 (or perhaps as early as 1870?). It was designed by the Bristol architect Joel T. Case. It later became the home of Edward Dutton Rockwell (1855-1925), who came to Bristol in 1888 with his brother Albert F. Rockwell. Their New Departure Bell Company grew into one of the largest bell factories in America and the largest producer of ball bearings in the world. E.D. Rockwell later left New Departure to become manager of the Liberty Bell Company. The house has lost its original Italianate tower and second-floor porch.
The house at 331 Main Street in Bristol, built c. 1910, is listed as the Curtiss House in the nomination for the Federal Hill Historic District. Around 1918, Charles H. Curtiss, 331 Main Street, was secretary of Local No. 50, Order of Railway Conductors of America. Curtiss had earlier (c. 1910 to c. 1914) lived at 265 Main Street in Bristol. Charles H. Curtiss (1864-1922), a Democrat, served in the state house of representatives from 1919 to 1920.
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.