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Diana Campbell, Executive Director

500 Wood Street
Bristol, RI 02809
401 253-2135

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History of the Bristol Industrial Park

August O. BournThe Bristol Industrial Park was initially the site of the National Rubber Company. Rubber manufacturing in Bristol began with the arrival of Augustus O. Bourn in 1864. After attending Brown University, Bourn joined his father in the Providence firm of Bourn, Brown and Chaffee, which manufactured India rubber shoes based on patents held by Edwin M. Chaffee (1806–1872), who had aided Charles Goodyear (1800–1860) in his discovery of vulcanization in 1839. Bourn organized the successor firm, the National Rubber Company, and in 1864 built a large plant in Bristol at 500 Wood Street. He served as treasurer and manager of National Rubber from 1865 until 1887.

Samuel Pomeroy ColtSamuel Pomeroy Colt, son of Theodora DeWolf Colt. The DeWolfs had been active in Bristol for years, building their homestead mansion, "Linden  Place", early in the 1800's. As a business man, Colonel Colt was extremely successful. In 1887 he was appointed as a receiver for the bankrupt National Rubber Company, based in Bristol. He reorganized the company and reopened it in 1888 as the National India Rubber Company. In 1892, he merged it with several other companies he had acquired to form the United States Rubber Company. Seeing the great potential of the rubber industry in the world market, he undertook a thorough study of its culture and manufacture. In a short while after his takeover, the company began paying dividends to its investors and, through acquisitions of smaller rubber companies throughout the United States, the firm became the largest rubber conglomerate in the country, with Colt the acknowledged rubber king. Colonel Colt's concern for Bristol was evident even in his business dealings. When advisors counseled him to close the Bristol plant, Colt refused in order to save the jobs of those who worked there. In 1901, he became president of the company, serving until 1918, when he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

In 1931, shoe manufacturing ceased at the facility which then became US Rubber Company’s main cable and wire division.  At its peak in World War II, the rubber factory employed about 6,000 people in the manufacture of rubber-insulated cable and wiring. At the time, Bristol had a population of 12,000 people.

In 1957, Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corporation acquired the wire and cable plant, which produced a greater variety of conductors than any other plant in the United States. Kaiser operated the facility as a copper and aluminum wire plant until it ceased operations in 1977.  As such, it was the main employer for the residents of the neighborhood that also provided them with the educational, religious, and social needs of their families. 

Lyle Fain, a Providence developer, bought the complex in the early 1980's to redevelop the property as an industrial condominium project.  The project was named the Bristol Industrial Park.

In 1993, ground broke for the first phase of the renovation of about half of the 800,000-square-foot, 18-acre former Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation complex. The Bristol Foundation, a nonprofit developer, created housing for the elderly. A second phase, a 50,000-square-foot assisted-care facility, was completed soon afterwards.

The local committee that oversaw the project later changed its name to the Mosaico Community Development Corporation to reflect the town's diverse ethnic heritage. Mosaico is Portuguese for mosaic, a term that perfectly describes Bristol's ethnic mix.

Mosaico was established with the primary mission to address the immediate physical needs of the Wood Street neighborhood including the abandoned Kaiser Mill Complex, vacant buildings, poor street lighting, dilapidated storefronts and unsafe sidewalks. From its inception in 1993 through 1998, Mosaico planned and helped to implement the initial four phases of the Kaiser Mill Complex Rehabilitation & Neighborhood Revitalization Plan, which was adopted by the Town in 1999.  Approximately $22m was invested and managed as part of that project, with an additional $1m that went into neighborhood improvements.

Sources: New York Times article from 1993

 

 

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