Prominent Families Who Shaped Poppasquash Point

 

Poppasquash Point is a peaceful section of Bristol, Rhode Island with a rich history. A significant part of that story is woven by the prominent families who left their mark in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Families including the Herreshoffs, Rockwells, Coggeshalls, and Colts transformed Poppasquash from farmland to a preserved, scenic area dotted with grand estates.

Point Pleasant Farm

The Herreshoff family is known for their incredible skills as boatmakers. At the turn of the 20th century, Herreshoff Manufacturing Company designed and built some of the most powerful racing sloops for the America’s Cup races, in addition to several one-design classes that remain popular choices for boat enthusiasts today. The Herreshoffs owned a significant chunk of Poppasquash Point. Their family homestead, Point Pleasant Farm, was where the company’s founding brothers, John Brown Herreshoff and Nathanael Green Hereshoff spent some of their childhood. Their family continued to own much of Poppasquash Point until the Hurricane of 1938 destroyed a significant portion of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company and the boat-building institution was put in jeopardy. 

Herreshoff Manufacturing Company Photo Credit Herreshoff Museum

It was during this time that family friend, Charles Rockwell, Jr., purchased 25 acres of the Herreshoff homestead to build his own, quiet piece of Poppasquash paradise. 

Point Pleasant Estate

Industrialist Charles Rockwell, Jr., envisioned a grand estate that would stand as a symbol of his success. He hired renowned architect Wallis Howe to build him a 10-bedroom dwelling in the English Tudor Revival style – quite a contrast from the surrounding farmhouses. He named the home Point Pleasant Estate and included some of the latest technology of the time including a steel substructure and an advanced electrical system. This gorgeous estate still stands and, until recently, was a bed and breakfast. 

Coggeshall Farm

 

In 1723, Samuel Viall acquired farmland in the northern section of Poppasquash. It passed through families and, by the early 1800s, Wilbour and Eliza Coggeshall became tenant farmers here. Their son, Chandler Coggeshall, later entered politics and helped establish the Rhode Island College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (now the University of Rhode Island). Eventually, industrialist Samuel P. Colt, nephew of famed firearms maker Samuel Colt, acquired the farm and built a vast estate on the land. The farmhouse, dating back to 1799, still sits on the property that is now a living history museum educating visitors about 18th-century life on a New England farm.

Colt Estate

Another influential figure in Poppasquash Point’s history and preservation was industrialist Samuel Pomeroy Colt. Grandson of the famous DeWolf family of Bristol and nephew of firearms manufacturer Samuel Colt, he was a lawyer and prominent businessman who served three terms as Rhode Island Attorney General. He created the United States Rubber Company, later called Uniroyal, and founded the Industrial Trust Company which became Fleet Bank, now owned by Bank of America. Colt assembled a large farm on the north end of Poppasquash Point. The property included three smaller farms that Colt consolidated. On the estate, Colt also built a private summer residence named The Casino which has since been torn down. The stone barn he built for his prize herd of Jersey cattle still stands within Colt State Park. 

Colt Farm poster Photo Credit Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission

Colt’s will stipulated that the farm remain accessible to the public even though his heirs fought to have the park sold off to land developers. His granddaughter, Elizabeth Colt Morey, wanted to preserve The Casino and was successful in stopping the land from being developed. The estate did eventually sell a portion of land to the town for a public beach. In 1965, the state took ownership of the Colt Estate, creating a state park.

 

Oxen on Colt Farm Photo Credit Linden Place

Preserving Poppasquash

Poppasquash Point is also the home of the Bristol Yacht Club, as well as the East  Bay Bike Path, a 14.5-mile scenic bikeway following the seacoast to Providence. Poppasquash is a coastal, private retreat that makes you feel a world away, yet it’s a short commute to Providence, Boston, and Newport.

 

The influence of these prominent families is undeniable. Their estates and contributions helped shape Poppasquash into the place it is today. If you’re ever in Bristol, Rhode Island, take some time to explore Poppasquash and immerse yourself in its fascinating past. It’s easy to picture the Herreshoffs setting sail in their meticulously crafted boats, or Samuel Pomeroy Colt admiring his prize cattle as you walk through Colt State Park. The legacy of these prominent families continues to be a captivating thread in the rich tapestry of Poppasquash history.

 

If you’re interested in buying or selling a property in Bristol, RI, or its surrounding communities, Hogan Associates Christie’s International Real Estate will gladly be your guide. Call us at (401) 680-6588 or send a message to [email protected].

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