Alonzo Bostwick Bristol was a Dallas-based architect and political organizer who designed the building that served as Dallas’s city hall from 1889 to 1910. He was born on April 28, 1833, in Ohio, most likely in Portage County. His father was Alonzo Bristol, who died before Bristol was born, and his mother was Harriet Minerva (Bostwick) Bristol, who died when he was ten years old. He later lived under the guardianship of his maternal grandparents, Adnah (Hervey) Bostwick and Mercy Bostwick, in Edinburgh, Ohio. On February 1, 1855, he married Amelia Eddy. They had at least three daughters, but only two, Harriet Eliza (“Hattie”) and Mattie Jane Bristol, lived to adulthood. In the 1860s the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio. In the early 1870s they moved again to Douglas County, Kansas, where Bristol and Amelia divorced. On July 31, 1872, he married Mary Katherine Jones. The two raised three children, Leroy Lopez, Elva, and Arthur Bostwick Bristol, and lost at least one child in infancy. By 1873 Bristol and his new wife had moved to Texas, and by 1876 they were located in Houston. Bristol and Amelia’s two surviving daughters remained with their mother in Kansas. In Houston, Bristol ran a carpentry business. In 1883 Bristol and his family moved to Temple, where he ran an architecture firm, Bristol & Clark, with Cortez Clark. In 1884 their firm relocated to Dallas, which, except for a period from 1890 to 1892, when he moved to Denison, was Bristol’s home until his death in 1899.
In 1884 Bristol & Clark designed the San Saba County jail, which was still in use as of 2021. They also designed the Blankenship & Blake Mercantile Warehouse and St. Mary’s College in Dallas. In 1886 they designed two public buildings, one in Hillsboro and the other in Cleburne, which served as both city halls and schools. In 1887 the Bristol & Clark firm was awarded a contract to build a new city hall building for Dallas. It was designed in the Renaissance revival style and notable for its many windows. The building, located at Commerce and Akard streets, opened on June 29, 1889. It was torn down to make way for the Adolphus Hotel in 1910. Bristol also designed Dallas’s Cumberland Hill School in 1888 as well as the nearly identical Oak Grove School a year later. On January 17, 1888, Bristol and Clark were inducted as members in the Texas State Association of Architects. Sometime in 1889, Clark ended his partnership with Bristol and left the state. By 1892 Bristol and his son Leroy L. had been working together for several years, and their firm was renamed A. B. Bristol & Son. Some other buildings designed by Bristol include the mansions of Miranda Morrill in Dallas and John L. Simpson in Gainesville.
Bristol was active in third party movements. While living in Houston, he served on local Greenback committees, organized meetings, gave speeches, and served as a delegate to the Greenback party’s nominating convention in Waco in 1878. In the 1880s he was an organizer for the Union Labor party. The successor to these third parties was the People’s or Populist party. The Texas People’s party organized for the first time in Dallas in August 1891 in the city hall building that Bristol had designed. In the 1890s he served as a delegate to the party’s county, state, and national nominating conventions. In 1893 he was elected president of the Dallas People’s Party Club and chair of the Dallas County Populist executive committee. Bristol ran for Dallas County tax assessor on the Populist ticket in 1894 and 1896. He contributed articles to the People’s Party-aligned Southern Mercury, gave speeches, and organized meetings.
Bristol was a proponent of women’s rights and pushed for a woman suffrage plank on the People’s party platform in 1894. He was one of nine male charter members of the Texas Equal Rights Association. He held a leadership position in the Dallas Equal Rights Club (see DALLAS FEDERATION OF WOMEN’S CLUBS), an organization to which his wife was elected president. He supported prohibition. He was also active in the spiritualist movement and claimed that he had seen spirits since his childhood. He was an officer in the State Spiritualist Association, even serving as vice president. He was a charter member of the First Spiritualist Society of Dallas, which organized for the first time in 1892 in his city hall building. He served as its first vice president. He was a member of the Dallas Freethinker’s Society, as was his wife. He was also a member of numerous fraternal organizations.
Alonzo Bostwick Bristol died on January 20, 1899. He was buried in Oakland Cemetery in Dallas. Leroy L. Bristol continued to work as an architect for several years after his father’s death. He was also active in Dallas municipal politics and served as a city building inspector and city tax assessor and collector.