One Square Mile: Bristol

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Rhode Island’s tiny Republican Party has struggled for years to increase its presence in the General Assembly. Back in 1983, the GOP made its biggest gains in recent history by highlighting a Democratic boondoggle that cost taxpayers more than a million dollars. The man who engineered that Republican strategy, former state party chairman John Holmes, spent part of his childhood in Bristol. He returned to the town with his wife Kathy when they fell in love with a historic home near the center of town. Bristol is the focus on our series this week, One Square Mile.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

A forum featuring Bristol boat builders and industry leaders discussing how the boat building industry is recovering from the bottom dropping out during the financial crisis of 2008.

Thursday, October 10th, 7:00 - 8:00 PM

Bristol Elks Lodge

1 Constitution Street, Bristol RI

One Square Mile: Bristol's Rich History

Oct 7, 2013
Flo Jonic / RIPR

Rhode Island Public Radio is proud to resume our acclaimed "One Square Mile" series where we take an in depth look at one Rhode Island community. This week the spotlight is on Bristol.

Bristol is a town of historical contradictions. Its wealth came from the slave trade, yet it also boasts the oldest 4th of July Day celebration in the United States; a town that went from repudiating human freedom to embracing it.


RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay first encountered Bristol as a journalist in the 1980s and he has lived there for more than decade. In this week’s commentary, linked to our One Square Mile series on Bristol, he explains why he’ll never call himself a Bristolian, no matter how long he lives in town. 

In Bristol, as in Faulkner’s south, the past is never dead. It isn’t even past.  History and the sparkling waters of Narragansett and Mount Hope bays have defined a community that is more than three centuries old.