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.

The Bristol Historical Association Celebrates a Virtual 40th

BHA's 40th Anniversary A Virtual Celebration Hosted by Joyce Kistner, Founder and 1st President of BHA October 1, 2020 7 p.m.

In April 1979, a group of nine women devoted to preserving the history of Bristol VA/TN met to organize The Bristol Historical Association. The group consisted of Joyce Kistner, president; Christine Caldwell, Faith Dillow Esposito, Mary Geiger, Ann Greear, Tina Hitt, Martha Marshall, Janice Martin, and Margaret Mitchell. They chose as their logo the image from a 1930s button showing the Bristol sign and a view of State Street. Thursday, October 1st, at 7 p.m., BHA will celebrate its 40th Anniversary with a very special program created and presented by founding member and first president, Joyce Kistner.

As with most things this year, due to COVID-19, the program will be held virtually.

The program will air on BTN-TV and may be viewed on channel 16 for BTES cable subscribers and on channel 192 for Charter/Spectrum subscribers in Bristol, TN. You may watch, beginning October 1, at 6:45 PM onwards

The link for the video is https://youtu.be/UchgpW2tFEE

You may also visit BHA's Youtube channel any time to view and read the presentation slides in greater detail at YouTube.com/watchbtntv




November, 2020

Whew! As I pen these words on November 5, we still do not know who won the presidential race between President Trump and former Vice-President Biden. Perhaps that will be known by the time you read this newsletter. We do know that a new congresswoman has been elected to represent upper East Tennessee, and a referendum in Bristol, Virginia, has approved a casino in the city as a hope for much needed tax revenue and economic development. The voting is over but the pandemic is not! Uncertainty about the future abounds, but rest assured that the Bristol Historical Association is alive and well and still at work!

Because of the unrelenting Covid-19 pandemic, in-person gatherings for BHA have not occurred since March. Nevertheless, we managed to co-sponsor with the YWCA and the Bristol Train Station a virtual program celebrating the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. In addition, charter member and first president Joyce Kistner produced a virtual program celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Bristol Historical Association. If you missed those, you may still access them through the Bristol BTN TV YouTube channel and the City of Bristol Tennessee Facebook page. Check them out! Through all of this, the Board and committee chairs have continued to meet via conference telephone calls in order to address ongoing administrative duties. We are chomping at the bit to get back to in-person activities! However, caution during the pandemic is the order of the day. In early October, we made the judgment we should go ahead and cancel in-person meetings for November and December. We were not happy with those decisions, but the recent spike in local Covid-19 numbers makes it appear that we were right in our decisions.

What a year 2020 has been! Considering the ages of some of us on the Board of BHA, we dare not wish away a single day. Yet, I confess that I find myself saying under my breath, “Come on in 2021, we eagerly await your arrival!”

I hope that in the not too distant future, you will be able to see and appreciate the transformation that has taken place at the Robert Preston House. Jan Rainero and Isabelle Ladd have been heading up this project since its inception. Their dedication and tireless efforts have led to unbelievable results. Perhaps the next clearly visible sign of progress at the Preston House will be a roadway providing easier access to the property. We have more barriers to cross before we are able to open this to the public, but we are eager to share this remarkable structure, that whispers remarkable stories, with the community. I think you will be pleased.

And now a request. This year, we, like most every other non-profit organization, have had to forgo activities that have been historically relied upon for revenue. The quickest, easiest, boost for us during these times is for new and renewing members to send in their membership forms for 2021. Please do so. And thank you in advance! Of course, if you are in position to make a gift over and above the dues, we are in position to accept it, and put it to good use! Thank you again. Download a membership form from: www.Bristolhistoricalassociation.com

I hope to see you at one of our functions - next year! Stay Safe! Stay well!
Charles 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

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, www.bristolhistoricalassociation.com 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 amyhopper2014@gmail.com

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, www.bristolhistoricalassociation.com.

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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