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Bristol Historical Association
Past Presidents

Joyce A. Kistner

1979-1981

James Otis

1982-1983

Fred P. Entler

1984

Edith M. Davis

1985-1986

Victor N. (Bud) Phillips

1987

Ruth C. Keller

1988

Joyce A. Kistner

1989-1990

Anna F. Horne

1991-1992

Robin H.W. Bagnall

1993

Ruby A. Reynolds

1993

Thomas K. Finks

1994-1995

Roy J. Williams

1996-1997

Frazier King

1998-1999

Kermit Lowry, Jr.

2000-2001

Bill King

2002

Frant Blanton

2003

Linda Brittle

2004-2005

Mary Beth Raniero

2006-2009

Isabelle Ladd

2010-2013

Tim Buchanan

2014-2017

Sid Oakley

2018-2019

Charles (Butch) Flannagan

2020-Present

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VICTOR N. (BUD) PHILLIPS

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JOYCE A. KISTNER

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Victor N. (Bud) Phillips

City Historian, Author of Bristol History, and former owner of the historic home on Solar Hill known as "Pleasant Hill"

Bristol's beloved historian, V.N. "Bud" Phillips, was born on August 25, 1929, in the Big Piney Valley, Beech Grove Community, near Ft. Douglas post office in Northeastern Johnson County, Arkansas, the youngest of seven children.

 

In 1945, at the age of fifteen, Bud began preaching and traveling as an evangelist. Bud arrived in Bristol in 1953, and quickly fell in love with the twin cities. For a time he was connected with the Graham Institute and Evangelistic Association and also had a social work ministry with the Bristol Salvation Army. In November of 1982, he moved to Solar Hill in Bristol, Virginia, and began renovating an historic house built in 1873 which he named “Pleasant Hill".

In addition to his vocation of ministering to his fellow man, Bud had a number of varied talents and interests throughout his life. He founded the Hudson Realty Company at Hudson, North Carolina and later operated the Bus Station Café at Clarksville, Arkansas. He also enjoyed antique dealing and collecting as well as interior design and decoration. But it was as an author and historian that Bud achieved widespread fame.

Bud's adopted home of Bristol inspired him to pursue one of his lifelong ambitions, writing. Bud was fond of saying, "I will here state my honest belief that if a thing can happen, it has happened in Bristol." He used information he had gathered from early residents beginning with his arrival in Bristol and continued to research the history of the Bristol area for the rest of his life. He became the author of many books of local history, authored a very popular newspaper column, "Pioneers in Paradise," hosted two television shows and one radio show, gave countless speeches and conducted many tours, all dedicated to the history of his adopted town.  Bud served on the Board of the Bristol Historical Association for many years and was the Association’s official Historian.

 

Bud Phillips Day was celebrated in Bristol on May 5, 2004. On April 27, 2008, he received the Mayor’s Outstanding Citizens Award. In 2006, he was made the Official Historian of Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee.

Bud passed away in his sleep on Monday, January 9, 2017, at age 87. He is buried in historic East Hill Cemetery, established in 1857, the site of many of his famous tours, where he rests in good company with other important figures of Bristol's past, including city founders, Civil War soldiers, Revolutionary War General Evan Shelby, and many more who have made contributions to Bristol and the nation.

Video credit to City of Bristol, Tennessee/BTN-TV

Video credit to City of Bristol, Tennessee/BTN-TV

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Pleasant Hill

214 Johnson Street

Pleasant Hill was the third house built on Solar Hill after the great Johnson land sale of July 5, 1871. It was built by William H. Smith, an early Bristol contractor, for local attorney Capt. John Harvey Wood. Construction began in 1872 and was completed in the spring of 1873. The Wood family moved into the house in May of that year. The brick cost one cent apiece at the time and one cent each to lay.

 

Originally, a small portico was over the front door. In 1875, a chimney was damaged by lightning. While having it repaired, Capt. Wood decided to add a veranda extending across the front of the house. The first telephone in Bristol was installed in what is now the dining room.

The story has long been told that Jefferson Davis, ex-president of the Confederate States of America, spent the night in the home in 1873. He slept in the north upstairs bedroom. Standing on the portico the next morning, Mr. Davis delivered an address to a large crowd of Bristolians  who had gathered in the front yard and on the lot across the street.

 

The first wife of Capt.Wood was Laura Lucretia James, a daughter of a very prominent early Bristol merchant, W.W. James, from Blountville, Tennessee. She died in 1891. Later, Wood married Virginia Holmes, a widow from Winchester, Virginia. It was at that time that he built the late Victorian home which still stands next door at 210 Johnson Street. Capt. Wood and his second wife moved into this house, and he gave Pleasant Hill to his daughter, Mary, wife of Samuel Harris. Gertrude, one of the Wood children who was reared at Pleasant Hill, married a Dillard, moved to New York City, and became the first licensed woman driver in that city.

 

Over the years, the house had several owners. At one time it served as the parsonage for State Street Methodist Church. Later, the house became a rental property.  In 1982, the late Bristol historian and author, V.N. “Bud” Phillips took possession of the home and began restoring it. Following Bud’s death in 2017, the house was sold, and the new owners have furnished it in keeping with the style and period of the home. The new owners care deeply about Bristol’s history and allow the Bristol Historical Association to use part of the house for administrative purposes.

 
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Joyce Kistner

Joyce Allison Kistner’s interest in and devotion to Bristol history began when she was only a child.  Riding in the family car through downtown Bristol, she recalls often asking about many of the interesting buildings that lined the streets. Later, as an adult, she wondered why Bristol did not have an historical organization to protect and preserve the many unique and important buildings along with their histories –the structures and stories that form the very fabric of our community.  So Joyce, with the help of eight dedicated friends, founded the Bristol Historical Association in 1979, with Joyce serving as the organization’s first president. They began with an adult group and a children’s group to start working toward the objectives of preservation and the goals of educating the public as to Bristol’s history.  Early speakers included Fred Entler, Tom Daniel, Mary Landrum, Dr. Kermit Lowry, and David Edwards from the Department of Historic Resources who spoke with business leaders about preservation and architectural features of buildings.  In 1982, the association sponsored a visit from the president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Michael Ainslie, who presented a program and included a workshop on the theme, “Preservation Downtown U.S.A.” Ainslie advocated for revitalization and economic redevelopment through historic preservation.

After several years of sponsoring public  programs and archival exhibits of Bristol, the group published A Pictorial History of Bristol in 1985. The book was a great success and helped raise community awareness of the association and its work.  Other notable examples of BHA’s work were the sponsorship of the placement of a number of historic markers, including markers for the founders of Bristol, Col. Samuel E. Goodson and Joseph Rhea Anderson, in East Hill Cemetery; the Founding of Goodson-Bristol Virginia marker at the Bristol Virginia courthouse; and the Bristol Sign marker on State Street.

Joyce’s interests and community service efforts are not confined to BHA alone. She is a talented and award winning artist.  She is an active supporter of the YWCA and its programs for young girls. She has traveled to Venezuela on a church mission trip, supported the American Red Cross, served on the Virginia State Historic Register Advisory Board as well as the electoral board for Bristol, Virginia, and is a member of many other organizations including the 17th Century Colonial Dames and the Blue Stocking Club.  Joyce was a teacher in the Bristol Virginia school system for twenty-eight years and a member of the School Board after she retired. She made sure her students learned the history of the Twin City, the state, and the country by taking field trips around Bristol and to places such as Williamsburg, the Virginia Governor's Mansion, and Richmond, Virginia.  Joyce owns a very old and authentically furnished log cabin that was relocated to her property, and she often gave tours of it to her students.

Joyce is passionate about teaching the public, especially young people, the importance of preserving and honoring the past.  In a 2014 interview, Joyce stated: “We need to know the past in order to appreciate the future and to preserve it.  I think Americans really don’t know enough about their history. It was called civics, and I think it lost some of its importance. It’s really our heritage and where we came from, and we should be preserving it.”

 

The importance of Joyce’s efforts to preserve and promote Bristol’s rich history may be best summed up in a resolution passed by the Virginia Legislature’s House of Delegates on April 3, 2013. 

 

House Resolution No. 506 states:

Commending Joyce Kistner.

WHEREAS, Joyce Kistner of Bristol has enriched the lives of countless fellow residents with her civic involvement and community service; and

WHEREAS, a retired educator, Joyce Kistner taught fourth grade at Stonewall Jackson Elementary School for many years, creating a nurturing environment in which all of her students could thrive; and

WHEREAS, Joyce Kistner also advocated for strong schools to prepare Bristol students for their futures as a member of the Bristol Virginia Public Schools Board; and

WHEREAS, Joyce Kistner continues to influence young people as a member of and volunteer with the Bristol Historical Association, sharing Bristol’s history with fourth grade students in Bristol, Virginia, and Bristol, Tennessee, public schools and two area private schools; and

WHEREAS, Joyce Kistner gives to each student she teaches a special bookmark she designed and created; the bookmark depicts scenes from Bristol’s history and serves as a reminder to students of the information they learned; and

WHEREAS, Joyce Kistner also wrote and illustrated Tracking Bristol VA.-Tenn. History, a history book for young people that provides interesting facts and games to help them learn about their city’s rich history; and

WHEREAS, a model citizen, Joyce Kistner exemplifies the role that committed residents can make in the well-being of their communities; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, That Joyce Kistner hereby be commended for her many contributions to the City of Bristol and its residents.

 

After 40 years, Joyce is still actively involved with the Bristol Historical Association.  She presented BHA’s 40th Anniversary Celebration program, held virtually due to COVID-19 in 2020, and curates and  coordinates BHA’s rotating library exhibits, a program she initiated in 2016.  As one of Joyce’s long time friends observed, “She’s such a perfectionist at everything. She is so civic-minded. She is so community oriented that she has more energy than any person I have ever met.”  Joyce’s contributions to the Bristol community continue to enrich our history.

Video credit to City of Bristol, Tennessee/BTN-TV