The Boardman Interview: Former Mall Site

January 1, 2018

Prior to the development of the Bristol Centre Mall its location was a myriad of wooden taverns, retail stores and apartment buildings. Under the guise of an urban renewal program, the buildings were all demolished making the area look like downtown Beirut before there was a downtown Beirut.

Construction of the Bristol Centre Mall began in 1964, but it did not open for another six years. Plagued by problems from the onset it always struggled.

In the mid-1970s, I was introduced to the Bristol Centre Mall.

During the 80s, we hung out, but by the 90s, we each made new friends, and went our separate ways. It happens – don’t judge; we’ve all been there.

In the early 2000s I was surprised to see it was still hanging around, and not surprised to learn of its demise in 2005.

Recently, I caught up with the former mall site now called Centre Square. For the purposes of this interview it will be referred to as the Former Mall Site.

It was a cold, late afternoon as we spoke under a gray lifeless sky where the mall once stood. Lake-effect snow soon developed, but other than to turn up our collars and maneuver our way through our coffees, we paid no attention to winter’s bluster.

So, Bristol Hospital is developing a medical building on the site, are you excited?

Mall Site:
Does Hillary Clinton have a paper shredder? Yes of course I am excited! However, I am also cautious and have reason to be.

Let’s discuss.

Former Mall Site:
Do you mind if I smoke?

Do you mind if I spit?

Former Mall Site:
You haven’t changed.

Nor have you.

Now then. There were numerous owners.

Former Mall Site:
In a word you could say that. There was the original owner Bristol Central Realty Co., who ran out of funds before we opened so we went through foreclosure. Then we had Wadhams and May, Allen Heflin & Associates, Bristol Associates.

That’s quite a few.

Former Mall Site:
I ain’t done.

Of course. Continue.

Former Mall Site:
William Brown and Maureen Brown, Hartford National Bank via foreclosure, Mario Ottaviano and Michael Tehrani.

Wow I thin—

Former Mall Site (interrupting):
Reed Properties and wait for it…the City of Bristol.

Right tha—

Former Mall Site (interrupting):
But there were lots of “developers” like Mo Epstein, Max Borghesi, “Renaissance Downtowns” and several others.

Of cour—

Former Mall Site (interrupting):
Then there were the name changes. Bristol Centre Mall, The Mall at Bristol Centre, Depot Square – whatever it is now.

Boardman (through clenched teeth):

Former Mall Site:
When did you get so testy?

When did you become an (Expletive deleted)?

Former Mall Site:
Please continue.

You have identity issues.

Former Mall Site:
Wouldn’t you?

Why did the mall struggle and ultimately fail?

Former Mall Site:
Major body blow was the state did not build Route 72 to downtown as was proposed, and four shopping plazas were developed on Farmington Avenue shifting the economic center thus making an isolated mall a wasteland.

What does the future look like there Nostradamus?

Former Mall Site:
That’s funny.

Thank you.

Former Mall Site:
I said that’s funny. Not that you’re funny.

Continue. (inaudible)

Former Mall Site:
What was that?


You were saying.

Former Mall Site:
They need to attract existing, successful Bristol businesses like they did with Bristol Hospital. Bristol Hospital ain’t sexy but it has a built-in audience – sick people, so it won’t be a ghost town like the mall was. That needs to continue. Piazzas and the Olive Garden that’s just silly talk.

Can that plan be executed?

Former Mall Site:
Maybe. From the beginning the mall lacked funding and vision; it was political, there was infighting and then the economic landscape changed. I predict the infighting will continue and developers will make promises and predictions that are not realistic like humans are known to do.

Public opinion will be all over the place, and the politicians and their parties will fight over control. The previous mayor got the ball in scoring position, and it will be up to the current mayor to score the touchdown. So, I ask you: Does it matter who scores the touchdown as long as we score the touchdown?

No cert—

Former Mall Site (interrupting):
Exactly! But we both know politics and how the world works. Consequently, they will quibble over the narrative just like they did in the 1960s and 70s. You wait and see. The Bristol Centre Mall is a cautionary tale told from the past to the present and the future. But hey what do I know?

Things to Know About the Former Mall Site:
It used to be a mall
Bristol Centre Mall was located in Bristol
The city of Bristol is located in the state of Connecticut

Random Related Things
During the Triassic period there were no buildings on the site
The Triassic period occurred 200 million years ago

News Bureau Redevelopment Planned at Meeting
Hartford Courant 04 Dec. 1958: pg. 12C
Staff Merchants to Study Proposal For Mall Center Takeover
Hartford Courant 09 Jan. 1968: pg. 8A
News Bureau Centre Mall Reported Bought
Hartford Courant 12 Dec. 1973: pg. 19D
News Bureau Redevelopers Hopeful of Start
Hartford Courant 05 Jan. 1975: 6B1
Susan Howard 4th Set of Owners Undaunted by Bristol Mall’s Dismal Past
Hartford Courant 01 Feb. 1981: pg. C5
James, Sandra New York group agrees to buy mall
Hartford Courant 22 Dec. 1989: pg. 18A1
James, Sandra Reed Properties takes over Bristol Centre Mall
Hartford Courant 3 Feb. 1990: pg. C3B
James, Sandra Bristol mall has varied history
Hartford Courant 8 Sept. 1991: H1B
Stacum, Don Bristol Council Unanimously Turns Down Renaissance Plan
Hartford Courant 2 Jun. 2015: B3


Community Outraged Because History is Being Taught in School

November 17, 2017

Northeast Middle School has canceled an invitation to a British author to speak to their 7th grade Social Studies class about the American Revolution from the British perspective. The event was canceled after several parents complained.

According to sources, parents were outraged that children would be introduced to the concept that King George had a valid reason to raise taxes on the colonists in order to pay for their war debt.

“This is America! Who cares about the British?” asked one parent frothing at the mouth. “Hey not my revolution, not my problem man,” he added.

Another snarled, “Historically the American point of view is under represented when discussing the American Revolution.”

One more observed, “If they are going to have a stuffy British author speak, then they sure as hell better have a stuffy American author speak too.”

The residents of Bristol have a long history of complaining about things from painting traffic boxes to turf fields to videotaping a bear at Sessions Woods to grousing about train noises when living near railroad tracks. Consequently, the controversy surprises no one.

Sir Peter John Westmacott, British Ambassador to the United States, was disappointed that the British point of view would not be presented to history students, and addressed the matter during a press conference at the British embassy in New York early this morning, “Apparently the echoes of the American Revolution, which ended 234 years ago, are still being heard. Since the United States founding the world has been told how exceptional the United States is; how inclusive the United States is; and how diverse the United States is. Perhaps the United States isn’t so inclusive; isn’t so diverse and isn’t so exceptional after all; at least not in Bristol anyway. So much for Bristol being “All Heart”!

City of Bristol on Life Support

October 2, 2017

The City of Bristol is on life support at Bristol Hospital, where family and friends are keeping a bedside vigil as the Mum City battles injuries sustained from repeated infighting, political scandals, revenge politics, bitter social media conflicts and a host of other self-inflicted wounds.

Doctors at the hospital say Bristol’s condition has deteriorated over the last week so it was moved to the Intensive Care Unit where it is using a ventilator to help it breathe.

Forestville, Bristol’s only child, told Boardman the city previously healed from life threatening injuries, but the prognosis this time is not good. The village is praying but is preparing to grapple with life without the city.

Bristol got its start as part of Farmington in the 1600s playing a minor role in the that town’s development, before establishing itself in the following decades.

The city carved out a niche in the subsequent centuries by having a diverse population and becoming a leader in manufacturing and recreation.

It became known for its humanitarianism when it adopted Forestville and an entrepreneurial spirit with the foresight to aid and develop Lake Compounce, ESPN and a host of other businesses.

However, in recent years, the constant strain due to ceaseless bickering and name calling has taken its toll.

Reactions from the Area

The town of Plainville, a loyal and trusted friend, released a statement, “We’re all rallying behind Bristol to do whatever we can, and give them any help they need.”

New Britain
Wearing a green military cap and dressed in its familiar military fatigues and toking on a Cohiba cigar, the City of New Britain was silent for many moments but then said through an interpreter, “This is bad news so we will pray for our lukewarm friend.”

Although the town of Southington is saying all the right things publicly, privately it’s a different matter. Intelligence agencies picked up conversations of Southington discussing Bristol’s plight, “We are sorry to hear about this but should Bristol succumb to its injuries we should have first dibs on Lake Compounce and ESPN.”

Guide to the 2017 Mum Festival Parade

September 24, 2017

For residents of Bristol and Forestville, the historic Mum Festival Parade is the bringing together of community, families and fun. So, if you are attending the parade today, here are some important details organizers would like you to consider:

* This year’s parade begins exactly at 1:30 PM. Late arrivals will not be allowed to view the parade.

* For those not able to attend the parade during the day, a second parade will be held beginning at 9PM.

* Waving is strictly prohibited. Spectators are reminded to not distract the marchers by waving at them because they need to concentrate on marching.

* Even though the parade is only hours away the route is still not determined because organizers want an organic – free flowing loosey-goosey feel to the event.

* The streets along the parade route are not closed to traffic so marchers, parade floats and spectators must remain alert.

* Unlike prior year’s the Parade Float Race will be held during the parade to give the event some death defying excitement!

A Long (Cursed) Parade History

* The first Mum Festival Parade was held in 1962, which is a long time ago.

* According the Census Report a lot of people that marched in 1962 are now dead and or deceased.

* 1976: In a bizarre accident along the Boulevard, the Shriners in their tiny cars collide. Grown men wearing fezzes are banned for a year.

* 1984: Spectators fall into a bottomless pit along South Street and are presumed “missing.” Authorities believe they are still falling.

* 1991: Parade delayed a week due to tuning a mishap. The Bristol Central Marching Band collides before the parade begins, and it takes three days to untangle the horn section.

* 2010: In a case of collective amnesia no one shows up for the parade.

London Marathon Finish Includes Local Resident?

April 26, 2017

Last Sunday’s London Marathon included one Bristol resident, Bryan Smythe Smiley.

Smiley was ebullient, but tired.  When we interviewed him at the finish line, we were struck by his pronounced British accent.

“I get that all the time,” he said.  “People think I am from Bristol, England.  Don’t let the O.B.E. after my name fool you.  That stands for ‘Order of Bristol Envelopes.’  It is something only a person from our Connecticut chapter would get.  My whole family lives in Bristol in Connecticut, U.S. of A., by George.  My grandfather was even 11th Earl of Bristol.”

Back in Connecticut, a local historian Jack Maize was beside himself.  “What Smiley claims is not true.  The voter rolls even show he resides in Bristol, England.  And Bristol never had earls.  I should know.  My great aunt was High Executioner for this town back in the war.”

We caught up with another local historian, Greg Putank, hanging outside Greer’s Chicken with a sign saying, “Will Provide Historical Context For Food.”   Putank vehemently decried these distortions of the truth.  “Both men are lying.  In fact, the second man is not even a historian.  I usually see him dumpster diving outside Price Chopper.  Believe me, no historian would go near their dumpsters.  We are loyal to Stop & Shop!”

“It is an ideal place to get a diachronic perspective for reconstructing aspects of individual and group identity shaped by current political exigencies through contextual analysis of the disposed comestible and toiletry repertoire.  I also like the bagels they toss.”

Price Chopper had no comment, but did brag that one London Marathon finisher was Georgina MacStewart, an employee with their new London store.  Or New London store?

Forestville on Alert and Frederick Douglass Confirmed Dead

February 4, 2017


Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.
– G.K. Chesterton

Following the Bowling Green Massacre the Forestville threat level was elevated Saturday. Due to the raising of the threat level and with the apparent death of noted abolitionist Frederick Douglass (more below) during the Bowling Green Massacre, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Harriet Tubman were placed in protective custody, President Trump announced late Saturday.

According to village officials, Forestville’s alert was raised but neighboring Southington wasn’t because Forestville saw an influx of refugees come from Plainville.

Frederick Douglass


Abolitionist, statesman and one time slave Frederick Douglass is confirmed among the dead during the Bowling Green Massacre in 2011.

Mr. Douglas was recently in the news when President Trump referred to him in the present-tense at a Black History Month event when he said “Frederick Douglass ‘has done an amazing job.’” We now know that statement to be false because he died in the 2011 Bowling Green Massacre. Below is a consolidated time line of his extraordinary life. He was only 193 years old.

Frederick Douglass Timeline

1818 Born a slave as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey

1826 Taught to read and write

1838 Changes his name to Frederick Douglass and escapes to freedom in the North

1848 Attends first Women’s Right Convention at Seneca Falls, New York

1853 Visits Harriet Beecher Stowe

1855 Publishes his second autobiography, My Bondage and My Freedom

1865 Receives President Lincoln’s walking stick from Mrs. Lincoln following the president’s assassination

1872 Moves to Washington, D.C.

1881 Predicts President Garfield will be a two term president

1903 Attends First Baseball World Series

1914 Attends state funeral for Franz Ferdinand

1932 Endorses FDR for president

1938 Has meeting with Chamberlain and Hitler and says “there will be no war in Europe”


1943 Begins dating American actress and pin-up girl Betty Grable

1952 Makes TV debut on What’s My Line?

1953 Accused of being a communist by Senator Joseph McCarthy

1963 Rides in the follow up car at JFK assassination

1965 Cannot participate in the Selma to Montgomery March with MLK due to gout

1968 Romantically linked to actresses Cicely Tyson and Diahann Carroll


1977 Makes guest TV appearances on The Walton’s, Little House on the Prairie, All in the Family, The Muppet Show, Good Times, 60 Minutes and The Love Boat

1979 Appears at No Nukes Rally

1984 Appears at MTV Awards with Diana Ross

1989 Caught up in The Keating Five Scandal

1994 Nominated for Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album

2000 Retires

2006 Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bush

2011 Dies during Bowling Green Massacre

2017 Death announced to the public

Left Handed Vice Presidents at the Historical Society

August 13, 2016

history 01

The Forestville Historical Society is hosting a program called Being Left Handed and Vice President this Tuesday August 16th from 7PM to 9PM.

According to the program’s organizer Aldridge Rumrick, there have been five known left handed vice presidents in American history: Henry Wallace, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, and George H.W. Bush.

The evening will start with the documentary film, Left Handed and a Heartbeat Away, narrated by Jim Lehrer. The film takes a critical look at the pressures of being left handed and being vice president simultaneously and asks the questions, how does being left handed affect the vice presidency and how does the vice presidency affect being left handed?

Following the film a panel discussion moderated by Parnell Williams will take place and include notable left handed Forestville residents.

The panel will discuss the following:

* The impact of monetary policy and the economy on left handed vice presidents

* Costs and benefits of a left handed vice president

* How does international law affect a left handed vice president differently than a right handed vice president?

A Q&A segment will follow the panel discussion.

All left handed people are encouraged to attend.

Right handed people are certainly welcome but are not encouraged to attend. Seating is limited.