New Bristol historical society forming to restore and relocate old town hall

An exterior view of the old Bristol Town Hall along Highway C in Bristol Woods County Park.

An exterior view of the old Bristol Town Hall along Highway C in Bristol Woods County Park.

A new historical society is being formed in Bristol to pursue the restoration and relocation of the old town hall building.

John McCabe announced the formation of the society in the following statement, emailed to

We are starting a historical society called Bristol Wisconsin Historical Society. The society is planning on saving the original Bristol Town Hall built in 1870. It will possibly be relocated to the Fireman’s Park next to the Bristol Fire department and restored into a museum and meeting place. The current location is in the county park on Hwy C and has no parking or easy access to it. The building is one of a kind. It was built in 1870 and contains a cement formed chimney, unlike other wood structures and is the oldest un-remodeled structure in Bristol. It is the first town hall in Bristol and used as a gathering place. On Oct. 15, 1869 the land where the building is located was given to the township for one peppercorn and one dollar. In legal parlance, a peppercorn is a metaphor for a very small payment, a nominal consideration, used to satisfy the requirements for the creation of a legal contract. The building was completed in 1870. It is a great opportunity for school children to learn about Bristol history in a historic restored building. Families will also benefit because they moved to the area from other areas and do not know about the rich long history. It will be a family learning experience open to all. The relocation and restoration of the building will benefit the community and preserve our history for future generations. It will be used to house a museum and for educational purposes by schools, scouting organizations, and other community organizations, programs, and citizens that benefit from the learning experience of an original 1870’s town hall. It gets young and old people involved thru historic demonstrations like mock town hall meetings, and restoring old artifacts. School children and their parents will learn about the area thru visiting the hall. It can be used for other events like reunions, weddings, plays, holiday programs, 4H, HCE, scouts, and adds an historic meeting hall next to the Bristol village hall. It is an historical asset to the community. Our first meeting of the society will be July 22 at the Bristol Village Hall at 7:00 PM. We are welcoming all people that want to be involved in starting a new historical society and to save the old historic town hall. Contact names are John McCabe 262-857-9115 and Shirley Davidson 262-857-7345.”

McCabe is also a village trustee, but he and other village officials have said that village funds will not be used for this project.

At a Bristol Village Board meeting last month, McCabe and former town Chairman Shirley Davidson said the Western Kenosha County Historical Society was interested in leading the project. But when asked about that Thursday, McCabe said that organization had withdrawn their support.

At that June meeting, the Bristol Village Board unanimously endorsed the concept of moving the old town hall building to Firemen’s Park, across 198th Avenue from the current Village Hall/Municipal Building.

The old town hall currently is located inside Bristol Woods County Park along Highway C and is owned by Kenosha County. That is the building’s original location.

The county uses the building for storage, but McCabe has been seeking a way to use the building again for events for a couple of years. County officials have said they are willing to give up ownership of the building and allow it to be moved for preservation purposes.

Moving the building to Firemen’s Park could solve some of the problems that arise with using the building for functions in the current location. At Firemen’s Park, there would be parking and the municipal building across the street could provide restroom facilities.


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