As I write these words, our community is facing challenges of historic proportions. On March 30, 2020, Governor Northam of Virginia has entered Executive Order 55 which imposes a Stay at Home mandate on persons in the Commonwealth of Virginia, which, of course, includes a major part of our community of Bristol Virginia-Tennessee. This order is of historic significance, because an order restricting the mobility of our citizens in the manner of this one is a drastic government measure infringing on freedom of movement that has been considered fundamental to the American way of life. On the other hand, however, we are now in the midst of a history making pandemic with the Covid 19 virus, and in the absence of drastic measures, we are inviting catastrophic events in this country and in this community. This Association will be documenting and preserving for posterity the events precipitated by this pandemic.

A member of this Association, Dr. Robin Feierabend, has conducted extensive research into the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 and, specifically, how it impacted our community. The parallels to our present public health crisis are obvious. The differences certainly must include the advancements made in our health care system over the past 102 years. History will have the final word on how we, as a community, fared in efforts to defeat and overcome this plague. The Bristol Historical Association is the likely organization to be a repository of information to aid historians in reflecting on this significant period for our community. It is my hope that the work of this Association will provide easier access to, and more plentiful data for, the future historians who will be in the role of Dr. Feierabend 100 years from now.

The Association will continue limited operations during this shutdown in our community through the marvel of technology that will allow the Board of Directors to conduct its meetings via conference telephone calls and/or video streaming. You will be notified as soon as we can recommence our public programming and activities. In the meantime, we can perform our work best only with your continued support. If you have not yet renewed your membership for 2020, please do so. If you have already renewed for the year 2020, thank you!

Be safe Bristol!

Charles Flannagan, President



As part of this special celebration, Nancy Arnold will present a program entitled "Tennessee's Historic Role in the Victory for Womens' Suffrage." This special program represents a collaboration between the Bristol Historical Association, the YWCA under the leadership of Kathy Waugh, and the Bristol Train Station under the leadership of Sid Oakley


Welcome to the official web site for the Bristol Historical Association. The Bristol Historical Association is dedicated to the identification, preservation, interpretation, and presentation of local history.

Greetings! JUNE 2020

Is it too early to sigh with relief? Virtually all states are lifting some of the more severe restrictions on movement, operating businesses, and social gatherings. The appearance of the virus in our area has been limited, and it is difficult for some people to see it as the ominous threat the media depicts it to be. A trip to Walmart or Lowes will convince you that many refuse to wear masks and appear to be proudly defying instructions and recommendations to mask. As with all of history, time will ultimately determine the story to be told. In the case of Covid-19, only time will tell whether the persons defying recommendations have made a grave error and how this pandemic will be viewed in the long run. In the short run, we face a great division among people as to whether the virus justifies the shutdown of our economy to protect our communities from this sometimes deadly affliction.

As for the Bristol Historical Association, we continue with our limited operations until we feel it is safe for everyone to gather once again. The Board continues its monthly meetings by conference telephone calls and is poised to return to full speed as soon as possible. Our next public program is currently scheduled for August 10, at 7:00 P.M., at the Bristol Train Station. This will be a program promoted jointly with the Train Station and the YWCA and will honor the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment which ensured the right to vote for women in every state. It is difficult for us to grasp, in 2020, that the debate over women's suffrage was a serious issue. But in 1920, it was! You need to hear about the critical role that Tennessee, and particularly a young man from East Tennessee, played in establishing the right to vote for women in the United States. We are banking on the hope that, by August, the virus will be on the way out, and it will be safe for us to gather for our scheduled program. Stay informed through our newsletters and our website, and we will give notice of other activities as soon as possible.

In the meantime, please continue to support your Association! If you have not yet renewed your membership for 2020, please do so now. If you have already renewed for the year 2020, Thank You!

If you are a non-member reading this newsletter, please consider joining the Bristol Historical Association! We need your support and we need you!
Be safe Bristol! Charles B. Flannagan

Please become a part of our association and enjoy learning about and enhancing our knowledge of the history of Bristol. We have informative programs throughout the year and a Christmas Luncheon each December. Individual members and committees work to further our mission by designing and selling merchandise through local vendors, maintaining the Tennessee Ernie Ford Birthplace, continuing work on The Robert Preston House at Walnut Grove and the V.I. College Legacy, fielding inquires about Bristol’s history, preserving historic memorabilia, preparing and installing monthly exhibits at the Bristol Public Library, acknowledging donations to the association, scanning and filing historic photos and documents, making educational presentations at local schools, awarding commemorative plaques to owners of historic homes and businesses, distributing interesting email and Facebook posts (Bristol History), publishing newsletters, maintaining this website, and more.

Wouldn’t you like to be involved? To join the association, please click here.
To visit our on-line store click here.

Bristol Historical Association

To see previous versions of Inside History go to our newsletters page - click here

Wanna know the big deal about Big Creek that fabled community at what is now the bottom of South Holston Lake?Click here to read the article.

"We would love to hear from those interested in this article about Big Creek. If you want to share your personal stories or photos about Big Creek and/or Anne W. Armstrong, please send them to us via email, using the "Contacts' tab on this web site"



Because you enjoyed the benefits of VIP Parking during last year’s Rhythm and Roots with the Bristol Historical Association, you have first choice of this year’s VIP Parking at Century Link across from the Bristol Post Office at the corner of Anderson and 6th Street. We have 65 parking places this year, and we are offering these spaces to last year’s participants first before they are placed on the Birthplace of Country Music’s web site this coming week and advertised in our BHA Newsletter and web site, We are giving you the opportunity to reserve your place now.

You may send your check for $75 for the 3 day reserved parking, and when your check is received you will be sent a parking pass no later than the 25th of August. Checks made payable to the Bristol Historical Association for $75 must accompany your request for a reserved Parking Pass. You will receive an email receipt within one month of the receipt of your payment. Please send your check to: Amy Hopper, BHA Parking Chair, 133 Spanish Oak Rd., Bristol, Tennessee 37620, and please include your email address. My email is

You may choose which place you want on a first come, first served basis. The numbers will be a little different from last year, so choose the place you want early. A final map with the space numbers will accompany your email. Feel free to pass this VIP Parking information on to friends and family. Thank you for your support of the Bristol Historical Association and its mission of preserving, protecting, and promoting our rich history. To learn more about our work when in town, go up Lee Highway almost to the Mellow Mushroom restaurant, and look on your left to see the Robert Preston House which BHA is in the process of restoring to the era of 1795. The property was recognized by the state of Virginia with a State Marker on June 14, 2018, which commemorates the importance of the Walnut Grove Plantation where the Robert Preston House is located. The Tennessee Ernie Ford House, located at 1223 Anderson Street, has been in the news of late due to the celebration of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s 100th Birthday this past February. You may read about these and many other of our activities on the newsletters archived on our BHA website,

Sincerely, Amy Hopper BHA Corresponding Secretary and Chairman of VIP Parking



Bristol Sign

Preston House Report

Preston House Report & Pictures

Led by Isabelle Ladd and Jan Rainero. 

Bristol Sign

Current Projects include, but are not limited to:
  • Restoration, establishment, and accreditation of Robert Preston House as a regional museum
  • Continued restoration and maintenance of the birthplace home of Tennessee Ernie Ford
  • Recognition of historically significant buildings through placement of BHA markers / plaques
  • Collection, preservation, and exhibition of memorabilia
  • Continued promotion / celebration of area sites and interest

Members of the Bristol Historical Association enjoy a variety of service and fellowship opportunities, receive quarterly newsletters, and, most importantly, take pride in the part they play in preserving and promoting the history of our area. Please consider lending your support to this worthwhile endeavor by becoming a member of our Association.

Thank You.
Sid Oakley, President.

Our History

History is told through the buildings and homes in a city. The intention of the Bristol Historical Association is to promote an interest in the history of Bristol by designating properties with historical significance.

In 1988 the Bristol Preservation Society launched a program to mark structures and sites throughout Bristol which would date back seventy-five years or more. Historian, V .N. (Bud) Phillips initiated a search for sites which would qualify for designation and receive a plaque. Markers were placed on four sites at that time: Troutdale Restaurant at 412 Sixth Street, the Billy Wood house on the corner of Locust and Sixth Street, East Hill Cemetery, and the Tennessee Ernie Ford House on Anderson Street.

In 1999 the Bristol Preservation Society and the Bristol Historical Association merged. The combined organization has continued the marking program with renewed interest. A generous contribution from Mr. William W. Walling has enabled the program to move forward. Mr. Walling has financed the cost of the first twenty-five plaques. Much credit is due to Mr Walling for his vital part in the promotion of the Landmark Designation program.


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BHA President - Charles B. Flannagan
Charles B. Flannagan

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