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Unity Park, the former Bristol Industrial Park, was initially the site of the National Rubber Company. Augustus O. Bourn organized the National Rubber Company in 1864, a spin-off of the Providence Rubber Company, and built a large plant in Bristol at 500 Wood Street. The building, a two-story hipped roof structure with an arcade belfry designed by Providence Architect Clifton A. Hall, was built of stone found on site. Part of the building was destroyed by a fire in 1870. The building was quickly rebuilt. A new fieldstone building and several new brick buildings were constructed north of the main office building.

A major expansion was undertaken from 1881 to 1882. The construction included three large two-story buildings of local stone to the South of the main building extending to Shaw’s Lane and a long three-story brick building built on the corner of Wood and Franklin Streets. Additional facilities include the Packing and Making Building (1881), Boiler House (1881-1882), and Machine Shop (1881-1882).

Economic Problems in 1887 resulted in the company's reorganization by Samuel P. Colt as the National India Rubber Company. Samuel Colt, merging the Company with several newly acquired companies, established the United States Rubber Company. Colt was president of the new company from 1901 to 1918, a period of significant expansion.

History of Unity Park

The Company was Bristol's largest industry and major employer during this period (1901 to 1918). Samuel Colt introduced profit sharing, stock subscription plans, and pension plans to employees as benefits.

By 1912 the plant specialized only in wire and canvas-rubber footwear (rubber clothing, hose, boots, rubber-soled shoes, and druggist’s specialties were the significant products before 1892), and by 1931 produced wire and cable exclusively during World War II. Over 4,000 persons were employed, providing wire for portable communications and heavier wire for ships and tanks. “Wire to Win the War” was a popular local slogan. Several new buildings were added during this period, and modifications were made to many of the existing structures.

Former Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation Plant, late 1970’s early 1980’s.

In 1957, Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation acquired the 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 closed in 1977. The property was given to Roger Williams University, formerly Roger Williams College.

Plans to renovate the facility as a community educational/residential/industrial complex failed to gain zoning and, in the early 1980s, sold to Lyle Fain, a Providence developer. Lyle purchased the complex with plans to redevelop the property as an industrial condominium project. The Project was named the “Bristol Industrial Park.”

In 1993, The Bristol Foundation, a non-profit developer, created housing for the elderly. The first phase of the renovation, which incorporated roughly 400,000 square feet of the available 800,000 square feet, was completed, followed by a second phase of 50,000 square feet of assisted living/care was completed shortly afterward.

The Bristol Foundation (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, which 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. In 2010, Mosaico purchased the remaining property at the 18-acre Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation complex and renovated and restored the existing building, developing the property as an industrial park to create and promote new industry and jobs for Bristol and the neighboring communities.

Unity Park consists of three (3) building groups, 1, 2, and 3 - critical structures within the former National Rubber Company and Kaiser Aluminum site. Local resident Joseph M. Brito Jr. conceived the vision for Unity Park in early 2020. Mr. Brito purchased the property in the Spring of 2020 and immediately began the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of the Bristol Industrial Park as Unity Park. The project goes beyond a standard brick-and-mortar mill rehabilitation of Wood Street's underutilized and blighted structures. The comprehensive plan for Unity Park brings together diverse organizations and stakeholders working together to realize the shared long-term goals and strategies to benefit the community – a vision to reuse these historic structures in an attractive, sustainable, and exciting way that will make Unity Park not only economically beneficial but also a destination for New England and areas beyond. Implementing this placemaking strategy for Unity Park will be an economic and visual asset for all of Bristol, preserving an import essential of its industrial past.

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