Bristol Historic District

Bristol Boro, Bucks County, PA

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Description

The 28-acre Bristol Historic District [†] was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It is located in southern Bucks County, includes the original town of Bristol, laid out in 1697, and the residential area that extends northeast along the bank of the Delaware River from the original town line. The district is located southeast of the community's industrial area and the former Delaware Canal. The original canal basin, now infilled and used as a municipal parking lot, is located immediately to the southwest of the district.

The district contains 350 buildings and is predominately residential in character, with the exception of Mill Street, the community's traditional commercial street. Of the 350 buildings that comprise the district 73 percent (257) are residential, 16 percent (55) are commercial, 4.6 percent (16) are institutional, and 6.3 percent (22) fail to contribute to the character of the district. The contributing buildings range in age from a Friends' Meetinghouse erected in 1711 to commercial buildings and residences constructed in the mid 1930s. The majority of the buildings in the district date from the nineteenth century. The integrity of the district, particularly along Radcliffe Street is good. Many of the buildings on Mill Street, and on the residential streets northwest of Radcliffe, have been resided with asbestos, aluminum, and vinyl siding, and have had porches and other features altered or removed. Despite these alterations the district continues to convey a sense of time and place.

The southern portion of the district is delineated by the original boundaries of the town of Bristol, as laid out in 1697. These boundaries consist of the Delaware River on the southeast, Walnut Street on the northeast, Pond Street on the northwest, and Mill Creek, now buried beneath the municipal parking lot behind Mill Street, on the southwest.

Four streets within the original town run in a northeast/southwest direction. Mill Street, the community's principal commercial thoroughfare, is characterized by late nineteenth and early twentieth century commercial buildings interspersed with early nineteenth and late eighteenth century residences converted to commercial use. Residences outnumbered commercial buildings on Mill Street into the latter part of the nineteenth century. Buildings constructed specifically for commercial purposes began to appear on the street about 1850. The mix of residential and commercial buildings that resulted from this pattern of development is still plainly apparent along Mill Street, though virtually all of the residential buildings now function as commercial establishments on at least their street levels.

Prominent among the surviving early residential buildings on Mill Street is the former Pursell Drug Store (200 Mill Street). Erected prior to 1781 as a residence for Thomas Belford, this two and one-half story brick building served as the office and drug store for Dr. Howard Pursell, a prominent local physician, from 1869 to 1927. Alterations to the ground floor do not obscure the residential character of the building.

Typical of the commercial buildings that first appeared amongst the residences on Mill Street in the second half of the nineteenth century are the Italianate buildings that line the northeast side of the 300 block, the two Queen Anne style brick buildings, constructed between 1891 and 1894, at 242-48 Mill, the Allen Building (301-03 Mill), a Queen Anne style brick building whose original portion dates to the late 1870s, and the adjacent (309 Mill) Art Deco style commercial building constructed after 1927.

The southwest side of the 400 block of Mill Street is an exception to the typical pattern of commercial development in Bristol. Prior to 1913 this block contained the buildings and structures of the Bristol Mills, a grist milling operation that dated to the early eighteenth century. Between 1913 and 1915 three new commercial buildings, including the Forrest Theater, were erected on the mill's site. All three of these buildings survive, but two have been altered by the application of new facade materials.

Market Street, the next street to the northeast from Mill, is less intensely developed than Mill Street and displays a more residential character, as do Mulberry and Walnut Streets, the final two northwest/southeast streets within the original town boundaries. Significant buildings on these streets include the 1711 Friends' Meetinghouse, located at the north corner of Market and Wood Streets, the 1857 Bristol Fire Company No. 1 Building, located directly across Market Street from the meetinghouse, and the 1895 Methodist Episcopal Church, located at east corner of Mulberry and Wilson Streets. All of these buildings, particularly the Friends' Meetinghouse, which has been stuccoed, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, whose spire has been removed, are somewhat altered from their original appearance.

Walnut Street originally formed the northeastern boundary of Bristol. Located on the northeast side of the street, either on or just beyond the town boundary, is a collection of religious buildings and grounds that formed a distinct edge to the original town and served as a buffer between the original community and the neighborhoods that developed to the northeast after about 1850.

The Friends' Cemetery, located on the northwest side of Wood Street, between Walnut and Frank 11n Streets, dates to the f 1rst decades of the, eighteenth century and is the oldest of the religious buildings and grounds located northeast of Walnut Street. Across Wood Street from the Friends' Cemetery, on the northeast side of Walnut Street between Wood and Cedar Streets, are the buildings and grounds of the St. James Protestant Episcopal Church. This congregation's origins also date back to the first decade of the eighteenth century. The extant buildings, however, date from the mid-nineteenth century. The church, designed by prominent Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan and completed in 1857, is a small Gothic Revival style building constructed of Trenton brownstone. Sloan's original design is readily apparent, despite 1886 alterations and additions by Philadelphia architect Charles M. Burns and recent reconstruction of the steeple. At the northwest corner of the St. James property, at the east corner of Walnut and Wood Streets, 1s a particularly handsome Victorian Gothic Revival Parish House constructed in 1877. The Episcopal cemetery that occupies the grounds surrounding the church and parish house contains the graves of many of Bristol's social and economic elite. The oldest of the religious buildings fronting on Walnut Street is the 1851 First Baptist Church, designed by noted Philadelphia architect Thomas U. Walter and located at the east corner of Walnut and Cedar Streets.

Four streets within the original town boundaries run northeast/southwest. These streets are predominately residential in character, although Radcliffe Street, located along the Delaware River, contains some commercial buildings, including several historically used as hotels, in its most southwestern blocks. The concentration of hotels and inns in this area is scarcely surprising considering the fact that the Bristol-Burlington Ferry docked at the foot of Mill Street and the Philadelphia & Trenton Railroad terminated at the intersection of Market and Radcliffe Streets. The hotels served the passengers that traveled by ferry and train. The most important of these hostelries is the Delaware House, a large stone and frame building located at the east corner of Radcliffe and Mill Streets. The original portions of this building, which has been altered and enlarged on several occasions, date to 1765. Across Mill Street from the Delaware House is circa 1860 Whitemore House, a two-story frame hotel with a mansard roof. Facing the Delaware House across Radcliffe Street are two buildings (17-19 Radcliffe) constructed prior to 1824, that were used as a "temperance hotel" during the early 1840s. Immediately to the southwest is a large three-story stuccoed brick building (11-13 Radcliffe) that was known as the White House Hotel during the second half of the nineteenth century.

The houses that line Radcliffe Street between Market and Walnut Streets are large, handsome structures, originally occupied by the community's upper classes, dating largely from the second quarter of the nineteenth century. These buildings display the Georgian, Federal, and Greek Revival styles popular among the town's social and economic elite. Significant residential buildings located on these blocks include the outstanding Greek Revival temple (244 Radcliffe) built as a home for Philadelphia merchant Joseph Craig in 1818. Purchased by the Farmers National Bank in 1833, the building has served as a bank since that date. The Philadelphia architectural firm of Heacock & Hokanson designed the large additions that flank the original portion of the building in 1927. Immediately to the southwest of the Craig House 1s a two and one-half story brick house constructed about 1831 as the residence of Thomas G. Kennedy, first superintendent of the Delaware Division of the Pennsylvania Canal, which terminated at Bristol. This house displays both Federal and Greek Revival stylistic details and is significantly less formal than the Craig House. Across Radcliffe Street from the Craig House is the circa 1834 Greek Revival style brick house of William Kinsey. Between Mulberry and Walnut Streets are several frame houses constructed in the Greek Revival style during the latter part of the 1840s. These include the circa 1848 house built by William Kinsey at 333-35 Radcliffe, the circa 1847 Dr. Augustus Guerard House at 319 Radcliffe, and the circa 1847 Charles W. Peirce House at 317 Radcliffe. This latter building is reputed to have served as a way station on the underground railroad during the years prior to the Civil War. Residences on these blocks that postdate the Civil War include the Second Empire style stone and brick Benjamin F. Allen House (301-09 Radcliffe), constructed circa 1872, the massive John Dorrance Mansion (300 Radcliffe) constructed during the Civil War, and the exuberant Queen Anne duplex, designed by the obscure Philadelphia architect L. M. Hallowell in 1886 for Francis Fenimore, a partner in a local firm that manufactured wall paper, and prominent local physician and druggist Howard Pursell (254-56 Radcliffe).

The three northeast-southwest streets located northwest of Radcliffe; Cedar, Wood, and Pond Streets respectively, are almost exclusively residential 1n character. The majority of the houses on these streets are modest two and two and one-half story frame structures, often constructed in rows, dating from the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Pond Street, which developed in the twentieth century, is an exception to this rule. The nineteenth century houses on these streets are essentially vernacular in character, with simple Federal and Greek Revival style detailing. Many of these buildings have been altered by the application of modern asbestos, aluminum, and vinyl siding, and by the removal or alteration of porches. Despite these alterations these streets continue to convey a distinct sense of time and place.

Most of the significant buildings on these streets are part of the small concentration of municipal buildings located at the intersection of Pond and Mulberry Streets. The exceptions to this rule are the 1854 Gothic Revival style Masonic Hall, located on the northwest side of Cedar Street between Market and Mulberry Streets, and the two residences, one in the Italianate style (333 Cedar) and one in the Gothic Revival style (337-39 Cedar) constructed about 1875 for El wood Daron, owner of the Bristol & Burlington Ferry and one of the largest landowners in Bristol.

As noted above the intersection of Mulberry and Pond Streets supports a small concentration of significant municipal buildings. The oldest of these, actually located at the north corner of Mulberry and Wood Streets, is the 1894 Bristol High School, a three-story brick building designed by Trenton architect S. A. Brouse. Located directly to the northwest of the Bristol High School Building, at the east corner of Mulberry and Pond Streets, is the 1906 stone firehouse of the Bristol Hose, Hook & Ladder Company, a modest Colonial Revival style building that replaced an earlier brick firehouse. The most recent of the municipal buildings in this area is the Bristol Borough Municipal Building, which occupies the south corner of Mulberry and Pond Streets. Local industrialist Joseph R. Grundy paid for the construction of this Colonial Revival style building, designed in 1927 by the Philadelphia based architectural firm of Heacock & Hokanson.

Beyond the original town boundary of Walnut Street the district is centered upon Radcliffe Street. Radcliffe Street constituted Bristol's most prestigious residential address almost from the date of the; borough's establishment. In general the grandest houses along Radcliffe Street are located on the southeast side of the street overlooking the Delaware River. The houses on the northwest side of the street tend to be more modest in appearance, though still obviously designed as upper middle class and upper class residences. Most of the buildings in this part of the district date from the second half of the nineteenth century, though there are scattered eamples of early nineteenth and early twentieth century residential architecture. These buildings exhibit a wide range of architectural styles, including excellent examples of Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival stylings. Many of these buildings retain a high degree of integrity and are virtually unaltered.

Typical of the upper class residences that line Radcliffe Street between Walnut Street and Jefferson Avenue are the massive three-story brick 1858 Elizabeth and J. Jenks House (435 Radcliffe), the 1894 Leopold Landreth House (430 Radcliffe), an early Horace Trumbauer design, Jessie B. Mears' circa 1860 Gothic Revival style double (417-19 Radcliffe), the exuberant Queen Anne style brick double constructed circa 1884 for Philip M. Hatzell (508-10 Radcliffe, William H. Grundy's eclectic brick mansion (610 Radcliffe), the handsome Victorian Gothic Revival stone house built circa 1876 for John Dorrance (725 Radcliffe), the massive Frank Bell House, a major 1889 remodeling of an earl fer Second Empire style residence (824 Radcliffe), the eclectic 1877 Joseph DeB. Keim House, with its imposing tower, and the 1816 Federal style mansion of shipbuilder John Reed (921 Radcliffe), one of the oldest buildings northeast of Walnut Street.

The district includes two areas outside the original town boundaries that do not front on Radcliffe Street. The 200 block of Washington Street, circa 1905, located between Cedar and Wood Streets, contains a number of modest frame houses constructed during the second half of the nineteenth century. These buildings continue the tradition of modest row houses found within the original town boundaries, but, being built some twenty-five years later, exhibit a different stylistic vocabulary.

The far northeastern end of the district, centered on Jefferson Avenue and Lincoln Street, represents the early twentieth century expression of the modest working class housing found along Washington Street and in the oldest portions of the town. The area around the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Radcliffe Street is typical of the development pattern in this portion of the district. Originally farmland associated with the locally prominent Keim family, this tract was subdivided into building lots between 1907 and 1911. By 1915 most of the lots were occupied by modest single-family residences. On Lincoln Street, located one block to the northeast of Jefferson Avenue, this same period witnessed the construction of a large number of small row houses for the immigrant Italian workers who labored in the nearby textile factories. These buildings, largely of brick construction, are the early twentieth century equivalent of the frame rows in the original portion of town and the later frame residences built on the 200 block of Washington Street in the decades after the Civil War. Taken as a whole, these modest dwellings present a portrait of working class residential patterns over a period of one hundred years. They exist in close proximity, but marked contrast, to the upper class housing arrayed along Radcliffe Street.

When originally nominated in nominated in 1976, the historic district contained 328 contributing buildings and just 22 non-contributing buildings.

Significance

The Bristol Historic District contains a varied and distinguished collection of residential, commercial, and institutional architecture dating from the.early eighteenth century to the mid 1930s. The district encompasses the original town of Bristol, laid out 1n 1697, and the residential neighborhoods, both working class and upper class, that extend northeast from the original town line along the banks of the Delaware River. The district's architectural stock, which includes fine examples of many major architectural styles and idioms, reflects the community's long history and 1ts importance as a transportation and commercial center.

Bristol dates from about 1681, when Samuel Clift established a ferry across the Delaware River at this location. A settlement, largely comprised of Quakers, soon grew up around Clift's ferry, and 1n 1697 the residents petitioned the Provincial Council to establish the community as a market town. The Council granted this petition, making Bristol the third town established in the province, following Chester and Philadelphia, and later that year Phineas Pemberton surveyed the town and laid out lots. The community's original boundaries consisted of the Delaware River on the southeast, Walnut Street on the northeast, Pond Street on the northwest, and Mill Creek, presently buried beneath the municipal parking lot behind Mill Street, on the southwest (Green 1938:17). These boundaries encompass the southwestern portion of the Bristol Historic District.

Bristol grew rapidly during the early part of the eighteenth century. The ferry, the market house, and the attendant agricultural fairs, attracted new settlers to the community. The establishment of a mill, the first in Bucks County, in 1701 spurred further growth, as did the provincial government's 1705 decision to establish a courthouse at Bristol. The court sat at Bristol from 1705 to 1725. By 1713 the town boasted both a Friends' Meetinghouse and a Protestant Episcopal Church. In 1720 Bristol incorporated as a borough, culminating this first period of the community's history.

The only building surviving from Bristol's initial period of development is the Friends' Meetinghouse, located at the east comer of Market and Wood Streets. This brick building, though somewhat altered by the infilling of windows and the application of stucco, is a direct connection to the earliest period of the community's history. A "great fire" in 1724 apparently destroyed most of the town and accounts fo the lack of other surviving settlement period buildings in the district. The meetinghouse probably received significant damage during this disaster, as records indicate that the building was partly taken down and rebuilt in 1728.

Bristol recovered slowly from the fire of 1724. As late as 1756 only Mill Street was "marked by anything like a continuity of buildings."". In 1784 the town contained only forty-five dwellings, and this number rose to only fifty by 1790. The town's chief importance during the latter decades of the eighteenth century stemmed from its position as a ferry landing and, after 1753, as a way station on the stage line from New York to Philadelphia. The Delaware House, an imposing four-story stone and frame hotel, reflects Bristol's importance as a stage stop and ferry terminus. Located at the east corner of Mill and Radcliffe Streets, the Delaware House was strategically located adjacent to the ferry landing at the foot of Mill Street and directly on the stage route through town. The hotel, which was known as the George the Second when it opened in 1765, was built and operated by Charles Bessonet, a French immigrant who arrived in Bristol in 1730. Following the Revolution the hotel, which was known as one of the finest hotels between New York and Philadelphia, was renamed the Fountain House. Although the building has undergone numerous additions and alterations it maintains a significant degree of integrity and readily conveys a sense of Bristol's past history as a transportation center.

Positive identification of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century residences in the district is difficult due to vague and contradictory documentary evidence. Nevertheless, several residences from this period have been tentatively identified. These buildings reflect the concentration of settlement along Mill Street during this period and the relatively modest appearance of residential buildings in the largely Quaker community.

Mill Street, the principal commercial street in Bristol, remained heavily residential in character throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Most of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century residences on Mill Street have been greatly altered over the years. Two residences, the former Pursell Drug Store (200 Mill Street) and the two and one-half story brick house at 129-131 Mill Street, retain a significant degree of integrity and permit a glimpse of the character of Mill Street during this period. The former Pursell Drug Store was probably constructed about 1781 as a residence for Thomas Belford. Howard Pursell, a prominent local physician and druggist, operated a drug store out of the building from 1869 to 1927. The lineage of the house at 129-131 Mill Street is much less certain. It clearly dates from the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century and most likely was constructed as a residence. Louis Hoguet's drugstore occupied the ground floor of the building throughout much of the nineteenth century. Other buildings from this period include the stone row, presently three, but originally six units, located at 117-127 Wood Street, and the stone and brick double house at 213-215 Market Street.

Between the 1780s and the 1820s Bristol became known as the premier spa in the United States. The nation's elite flocked to Bristol in order to take the waters at nearby Bath Springs. The presence of the springs, and Philadelphia's tenure as the nation's capital prior to 1800, attracted a number of wealthy residents to Bristol. These new residents settled along Radcliffe Street, overlooking the Delaware River, and quickly made the street into the town's most prestigious residential address. Several grand residences constructed during this period survive, perhaps the most significant being the Greek Revival temple constructed in 1818 as a home for Philadelphia merchant Joseph Craig (250 Radcliffe Street). This building, altered and enlarged on several occasions, most notably by the Philadelphia architectural firm of Heacock & Hokanson in 1927, has served as a bank since 1833.

While Bristol's position as the nation's premier spa certainly attracted wealthy residents and high-style architecture to the community, the town's economic prosperity during the first half of the nineteenth century depended upon its position as a transportation center. The town's ship building industry, which commanded widespread respect, accounted for a significant portion of this prosperity. Shipyards operated on Mill Creek, at the southwestern edge of the district and along the banks of the Delaware northeast of the present Franklin Street. The shipwrights constructed a number of residences in town, few of which may be positively identified today. The John Reed House (921 Radcliffe Street), a handsome two and one-half story brick house constructed in 1816 by one of the town's most prominent shipbuilders as his own residence, is an exception to this rule and an excellent example of the work of these craftsmen. A Victorian-era addition to the southeast end of the house and a porch constructed during the same period do not obscure the original character and integrity of the building.

Shipbuilding remained an important local industry well into the mid nineteenth century, however the impetus for Bristol's greatest period of growth, which occurred between 1825 and 1855 stemmed from the town's position as the southern terminus of the Delaware Division of the Pennsylvania Canal. Begun in 1827, and completed in late 1830, the canal connected Bristol to the rich anthracite coal fields of northeastern Pennsylvania and transformed Bristol into a bustling transportation hub.

The need to transfer goods to and from the canal boats at Bristol created a local real estate boom in the 1830s and 1840s. The demand for riverfront property, suitable for the construction of wharves, docks, or warehouses soared. In 1836 Franklin and Penn Streets were opened to the banks of the Delaware in order to provide access to the newly built docks and wharves. The prosperity that resulted from the presence of the canal brought the railroad to Bristol. In 1834 the town's first railroad depot opened at the foot of Market Street, in close proximity to the wharves.

The canal brought both new residents and buildings to Bristol. The wealthy and prominent built their houses along Radcliffe Street, the community's traditional upper class address, while longshoremen and other workers l 1ved in modest frame rows constructed in the northern portions of the original town and on new streets carved out of the farmland that bordered the northeastern edge of town. Dorrance, Washington, and Lafayette Streets, opened 1n 1855 on land owned by John Dorrance and Henry M. Wright, are representative of the expansion of the town that occurred as a result of the prosperity brought by the presence of the canal. The simple frame row houses that line Wood and Cedar Streets between Market and Walnut Streets are physical reminders of the workers who labored on the now vanished docks and wharves.

Upper class residences constructed during the period of the canal boom are concentrated on Radcliffe Street between Market and Walnut Streets. Significant examples include the two and one-half story stuccoed brick house built in 1831 for Thomas G. Kennedy, the superintendent of the Delaware Division of the Pennsylvania Canal (220 Radcliffe Street), William Kinsey's circa 1834 three story Greek Revival style brick townhouse (221 Radcliffe Street), Kinsey's three-story frame Greek Revival style double house (333-335 Radcliffe), and the two fine Greek Revival style frame houses built about 1847 for Charles Peirce and Dr. Augustus Guerard (317 and 319 Radcliffe Street).

The prosperity sparked by the canal proved relatively short-lived. The completion of an outlet lock at New Hope in 1840 permitted canal boats to leave the Pennsylvania Canal, cross to the >New Jersey side of the Delaware River, and enter the Delaware & Raritan Canal. This route greatly shortened the distance required to reach New York and other major northeastern cities and siphoned a great deal of trade away from Bristol. Bristol continued to prosper until about 1855, but the fol lowing five years were marked by economic recession. The town did not recover from the loss of its status as a transshipment point until the Civil War. The economic prosperity that the canal brought to Bristol is manifested in a series, of impressive institutional buildings constructed during the 1850s. These include the 1854 Gothic Revival style Masonic Temple located in the 200 block of Cedar Street, Samuel Sloan's 1857 Gothic Revival style St. James Protestant Episcopal Church at the north corner of Wal nut and Cedar Streets, and Thomas U. Walter's 1851 brownstone First Baptist Church at the east corner of Walnut and Cedar Streets.

Beginning in 1860 the prosperity of Bristol revolved around the community's industrial endeavors. A number of important industrial concerns established themselves along the banks of the Pennsylvania Canal 1n Bristol during the twenty-five years after 1860, turning the town into the preeminent industrial community in Bucks County. The rolling mills, textile mills, carpet mills, and other industries located along the canal sparked an economic recovery in the community. They generated new wealth, attracted new workers, and are largely responsible for the growth and expansion of the town that occurred in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The owners and managers of the mills and factories built a number of magnificent residences, almost all 1ocated along Radcliffe Street, in the last decades of the nineteenth century. These include the William H. Grundy House (610 Radcliffe Street), the 1884 Leedom-Pursell House (254-256 Radcliffe Street), the John Dorrance House (300 Radcliffe Street), the 1894 Horace Trumbauer-designed Leopold Landreth House (430 Radcliffe Street), the Frank Bell House (824 Radcliffe Street), and the circa 1868 Joshua Peirce House (210 Jefferson Avenue). All of these buildings exemplify the high-style architecture built by Bristol's economic and social elite during the decades after the Civil War. Other significant buildings erected during this period include the 1869 St. Mark's Roman Catholic Church (1033 Radcliffe Street), the 1877 St. James Protestant Episcopal Church Parish House at the east corner of Walnut and Wood Streets, S. A. Brouse's 1894 Bristol High School Building at the north corner of Mulberry and Wood Streets, and the altered 1895 Methodist Episcopal Church at the east corner of Mulberry and Wilson Streets.

The new workers attracted to Bristol by the mills and factories required their own housing. Rows of modest worker housing were constructed near the town's industrial district during the decades after the Civil War. The row houses and detached dwellings that line the 200 block of Washington Street are among the best preserved examples of this type of housing in the district. These buildings are the direct descendants of the worker housing constructed in the northern portions of the original town during the canal boom.

The community's need for worker housing continued during the first decades of the twentieth century. The residential areas that comprise the northeastern part of the district conta 1 n a variety of resources that illustrate the responses to this need. The detached houses that line the 100 block of Jefferson Avenue, almost all constructed between 1911 and 1915, represent the upper limits of worker and middle class housing in the community. The uniform brick rows and slightly more elegant doubles on Lincoln and Grant Streets are typical of the most modest worker housing constructed during the early twentieth century. These buildings largely house recent Italian immigrants who worked in the nearby mills and factories.

Twentieth century construction in Bristol, with the exception of the residential areas just described, 1s largely integrated into the existing nineteenth century streetscape and consists of replacement buildings, or buildings constructed on formerly vacant lots. The 1906 American Hose, Hook & Ladder Company Fi rehouse at the east corner of Mulberry and Pond Streets is an example of a twentieth century replacement building. The fire company's 1882 brick firehouse formerly existed on the site. The 1927 Bristol Municipal Building, designed by Philadelphia architects Heacock & Hokanson and paid for by local industrialist Joseph R. Grundy, occupies a formerly vacant site at the south corner of Mulberry and Wood Streets. The three commercial buildings that line the southwest side of the 400 block of Mill Street, al 1 constructed between 1913 and 1915, occupy the site of the Bristol Mills. Almost all of the twentieth century buildings located southwest of Jefferson Avenue are commercial or institutional buildings. Most are Colonial Revival in style.

The Bristol Historic District encompasses the oldest and most significant portions of the commercial and residential sections of Bristol Borough, the third oldest town in Pennsylvania. The district includes the entire original town of Bristol, as laid out in 1697, and the upper class residential area along Radcliffe Street. Appendages to the district in the area of Washington Street and Jefferson Avenue incorporate significant collections of late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, respectively, worker housing. The district contains a significant collection of residential and commercial architecture dating back to the early eighteenth century. It represents the history of the third oldest town in Pennsylvania, following Chester and Philadelphia, a town once known as the premier spa in the United States, a major transshipment point on the Pennsylvania Canal, and the most important industrial town in Bucks County.

Source: Patrick W. O'Bannon, Principal Historian, John Miller Associates, Bristol Historic District, 1986, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Carpenter Street • Cedar Street • Grant Street • Jefferson Avenue • Lincoln Street • Market Street • Mill Street • Mulberry Street • New Brook Street • Pond Street • Radcliffe Street • Walnut Street • Washington Street • Wood Street


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