Wandering to Bristol, RI

Bristol is only 32 miles from the town I grew up in and yet as those of you who know Rhode Islander’s know, it might as well have been a million miles away. Hoping to catch my niece on the lacrosse field on my last week of unemployment I began the 80 mile journey to Bristol.

I’d missed the Brahmin tent sales last year and was not sure I could make the May one so I made a quick detour to the Brahmin Factory Outlet in Fairhaven, MA (77 Alden Road). Although I love the variety and excitement of the tent sale, I have found it a bit overwhelming. In addition, the best discounts at the tent sales occur when buying at least three bags.

After twenty more minutes of driving I reach the red white and blue lined streets of Bristol. I’ve missed the guided tours at Linden Place but for $12 can still walk around with a printed script on a self-guided tour. I love a knowledgeable docent lead tour but getting to spend as much or as little time in each room especially on a rainy day when I had the whole house to myself was a delight.

The house was built in 1810 for the George DeWolf family who made their money in the Slave Trade. Only recently does Rhode Island seem to be acknowledging the significant role it played; if this was discussed at all during my twelve years of public education in the 70s and 80s it certainly was not emphasized.

For reasons not disclosed on their website or included in the tour materials fifteen years later a now bankrupt George DeWolf and his family abandon the house in the night to avoid creditors. Some fifty years later the house is purchased by Edward Colt for his wife Theodora who happens to be the daughter of George DeWolf. The mansion stays in the Colt family for over 100 years until 1987 when the Friends of Linden Place raise money to purchase the property.

Looking for a warming liquid, I asked at the gift shop for recommendations on a great cup of coffee and was pointed to Empire Coffee & Tea down one street closer to the water on Thames. Empire began in Newport where it has two locations and there is another in Middletown. I had an excellent latte and also sampled a carrot cake donut from Knead Doughnuts of Providence and wouldn’t hesitate to go back if I find myself in Bristol again.

As it turned out, my niece’s lacrosse match was played against Mt. Hope High School which plays at Colt State Park. The park is the former gentleman’s farm of Theodora and Edward Colt’s son Samuel; I love when. these serendiptous connections occur. A gorgeous setting even on a cold, damp and dreary afternoon.

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