Will open in February....watch for the opening date and opening reception.

Special exhibits are always happening!



Meetings with guest lecturers are held throughout the year on a wide range of subjects pertaining to history. Members receive announcements in the mail or by email.

Our Winter Luncheons are a favorite as well as Sunday afternoon talks by local authors.



Museum tours are available during open hours and walking tours are also available, mostly on Saturday mornings.

Walking tours focus on downtown Bristol and its history although occasionally go off in a different direction such as into a neighborhood of interest or a cemetery.

Walking tours are generally $10 for non-members and $5 for members.

We can accommodate larger group tours by appointment in advance. Just give us a call at 401-253-7223 or send an email to info@bhps.necoxmail.com

Our Story


The BH&PS is located today at 48 Court Street in an 1828 jail built of granite blocks used as ballast in early Bristol sailing ships. It was founded in 1936 to "promote interest in historical research, stimulate the study of the history of Southern New England, especially the Town of Bristol, and collect and preserve whatever is related thereto." Prior to housing the collections in the jail building on Court Street, the Society was located at the Rogers Free Library building. In 1957, a disastrous fire at the Library destroyed many of the Society's treasures and resulted in its lease of the then abandoned Bristol County Jail for use as a museum, library and meeting space.   

By 1972, the Society changed its name to the Bristol Historical and Preservation Society to reflect its concern with preservation. The next year it was able to buy the jail from the State of Rhode Island. Restoration of the two-tier cell block for a display area was assisted by matching funds from the National Park Service.  In 1976, the Society placed historic plaques on more than one hundred buildings as part of the American Bicentennial Celebration and to make officials and the citizens aware of the need to preserve Bristol through passage of the historic district zoning which was enacted in 1987 for part of the downtown area of Bristol. 

The Society has also been instrumental in the formation of four other museums: The Bristol Art Museum (1962), the Coggeshall Farm and Museum (1968), the Friends of Linden Place (1990) and the Bristol State House Museum (1996). 

The Society is very active with monthly meetings throughout the year with lectures and presentations from local historians, architects, preservationists, university professors, museum experts and writers. In addition, there are guided walking tours from spring through fall as well as tours of the collections and special displays throughout the year. During the week, the Library is visited by local residents and university students as well as by people from around the world doing genealogical, deed and other research. The Library contains more than 1800 books and documents of regional and local historical interest, extensive genealogical materials, deeds, ships’ journals, tax records and census lists.

Become a member!

Click on our Membership link and join  us!!