The Bristol Press – Upcoming Bristol Parks History Program at Bristol Historical Society

BRISTOL – Sarah Larson, Deputy Superintendent of Bristol’s Department of Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services, will present a program on the history of Bristol’s parks on November 17 at the Bristol Historical Society.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. at the Bristol Historical Society at 98 Summer St. for the presentation, part of the “Third Thursday” program series. The program will feature several historic photos and there will be time for questions and answers. Refreshments will be served.

“There will be photos, postcards, maps and copies of the wills that entrusted the park lands to the city,” Larson said. “I’m sure there will be a lot of childhood memories.”

Larson said she will tell the story of the local parks from when Bristol was a farming village known as “New Cambridge” in the 1600s and 1700s. However, it will focus primarily on the 20th century when the park system was officially developed.

“We will take guests through the history of our parks since their inception,” Larson said. “Since Bristol split from Farmington, our parks have been places where people have gone to gather, worship, protest and mourn. They have been a central part of Bristol’s identity. We’ll talk about the roles Rockwell Park and Paige Park played in the 20th century and today and we’ll talk about the future of the park system.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Larson said, parks were segregated based on the ethnic backgrounds of the neighborhoods around them.

“Rockwell Park was the Italian park,” she said. “There were a lot of Italian families living in the West End.”

Now, Larson said, Bristol’s park systems are “inclusive for everyone” and programs are being created to “remove barriers”.

Larson added that Bristol has the second largest network of parks in Connecticut. It is also among the 10 largest park systems in the Northeast.

“Our parks are the number one reason residents live in Bristol according to an economic and community development survey we carried out in 2019,” she said.

Maya Bringe, president of the Bristol Historical Society, said residents of Bristol, herself included, often speak proudly of the local park system.

“My kids go there for swimming lessons at the aquatic center and play football and Pokémon go to the parks,” she said. “We went to all the parks during the pandemic. There are many hidden assets that people don’t know about. Many projects are to come to enhance these spaces.

Bristol Parks is currently undergoing several renovations and improvements, which Larson will cover with Bristol Department of Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services Superintendent Joshua Medeiros.

The Bristol Historical Society will sell its annual holiday ornament to the program. The ornament features the Rockwell Park Lagoon on one side and the Paige Park Pool on the other. The ornament is $20 and is also available for purchase at City True Value at 750 Farmington Ave.

Admission is free for members of the Bristol Historical Society and $5 for non-members.

For more information, visit or call 860-583-6309.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or [email protected]

Published in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Monday, November 14, 2022 11:15 AM. Updated: Monday November 14, 2022 11:17.

Ryan H. Bowman