Thanks so much for the great response to this blog!
A special thank you to those who have passed it on to others. We are heading quickly to amazing page visits to this blog! Welcome to folks from all over the country and other countries as well, including Lisbon!!

The "Village", as it was called, is located in the northwest corner of the city of Taunton, Massachusetts U.S.A. It covers about 1 square mile with the center being School Street. A large portion of the Village population was Portuguese when I was growing up.

This blog covers a lot of the history of the Village, much to do with my years as a child there: 1940 through the late 1950's. I do have many wonderful photos and information prior to that that and will share those as well. Always looking for MORE PHOTOS AND MORE STORIES TO TELL.

If you would like to send photos or share a memory of growing up in the Village
e-mail me at
feel free to comment on the posts. Directions are on the right side of the blog posts. Jump in, the water is fine and it is easy!!!

I will be posting photographs but not identifying individuals unless I have permission or they are a matter of public record. It you wish to give me permission, please let me know.

I am looking for any and all photos of the Village...

Please note: the way blogs work is that the latest post is first. It you would like to start from the beginning of the blog, check out the post labels on the right of the blog and go from there. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Earlier this summer we spent ten days in lovely, historic Bristol, Rhode Island.  Bristol is located about a 30 minute drive from the School Street Village in Taunton.

 We are partial to historic towns, as you can imagine, as well as to those close to the sea. This small town fit the bill and has long been a favorite of ours.  By a stroke of great good luck we found a perfect apartment in a three story home a block up from the bucolic downtown and two from the water.  That was a blessing, but our stay there contained even more blessings. We found ourselves in another  Portuguese American Village and with new good friends.  This post and perhaps the next two will share that experience so brimming with history and family nostalgia.

It is a grand feeling to come upon another Portuguese Village, and even better to find it flourishing. To be part of it for just awhile and immersed in the welcoming Parish at its heart is a gift.  That grand feeling is still better when the landlord family that rented the apartment to us is a premiere Portuguese family which shares friendship with us.

Bristol is very historic.  It was settled in 1680 by early colonists.  Bristol has the oldest continuing Fourth of July parade in the country.  When I went to the Bristol Historical Society I was not able to find a lot about the significant Portuguese presence in Bristol.
For many years it had been a closed society probably run by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Why was I interested?  Well, apart from  the beauty of Bristol, it means a lot to me since it welcomed my Grandmother Isobel Bento Correia to America in 1915.  It introduced her to her husband and they were married in Bristol in 1916 at St. Elizabeth's Church on Wood St.

In 2013, The Providence Journal published an article describing the historic Portuguese section of Bristol that is Wood St. The area is still carrying on its culture and traditions even today.  Portuguese bakeries, a Portuguese Grocery and a Portuguese Butcher Shop dot the area. There is an independent Portuguese Band Club.  The neighborhood is characterized by small and multifamily homes, similar to my own School Street Village.

An excellent article from The New England Historical Society: "How Portuguese Immigrants Came to New England",  tells us that ".. in Rhode Island Portuguese Immigrants make up 9.7 % of the total population making it the densest concentration of Portuguese in the Country..."  Although Massachusetts has the largest number of persons of Portuguese ancestry, that is still quite a statistic.

No wonder we so impressed by the Portuguese culture and its continuing vitality. The presence of Portuguese Americans and new Immigrants is felt strongly in the Wood St. area of Bristol, RI in particular.

The Wood Street neighborhood grew in earnest around the mill complex on the east side of Wood St. built in 1864 to house the National Rubber Company. This is a photo of that complex that hangs today in the Bristol Historical Society.  Many of the buildings are gone, some house smaller businesses while others have been converted to senior housing, condominiums and townhouses.

In 1913, just two years before my grandmother arrived in Bristol, R.I.  St. Elizabeth's Church was built at 577 Wood St. It was built to serve the growing Portuguese community and culture around it.  My Grandmother Isobel met my Grandfather Manuel Motta, probably at that Factory of the National Rubber Co.  Her papers say that it was a shoe factory where they met and they did make shoes there.  My Grandfather's Uncle introduced them. My grandmother is on the right in the photograph below sitting next to her sister, Annie and one of Annie's children. This would have been in 1916 on the front stoop of a tenement where they were all living in Bristol.  Isobel and Annie were part of the tide of immigrants coming from the Azores (for my Grandmother and and  Great Aunt) and Madeira (for my Grandfather).

      The Parish of St. Elizabeth (named after the great Queen St. Elizabeth of Portugal) would grow and nurture all of these Portuguese newcomers to America.  The Parish today is still just as vibrant and as the music of the Portuguese language flew around me making my soul sing as we made our way into the Church for Mass.

This is a video of the parishioners at St. Elizabeth's singing in Portuguese to Our Lady of Fatima . If you grew up in a Village like School Street or that of Bristol's Wood St. area, this will warm your memories . Note that the video was recorded after the renovation.


                               Another Village in my heart.  Another deep link to my past.

St. Elizabeth's was recently renovated to what you see in the above photo. The Parish did a beautiful job of blending old and new.  Below note that the  old original altar has been kept, the altar before which my Grandparents were married in 1916. just three years after the Church had been built. The renovation blends seamlessly into the clean lines of the Church that reminds one of the inside of a ship.  Portuguese were, after all, people of the sea. That is why they settled on either coast, although often ending up working in the skeletal innards of a factory as my people did.

 In their way, where they settled Portuguese families eventually purchased homes and a good amount of land. Their homes are impeccable, back gardens flowering in color in early Spring and Summer.  One evening as we walked this second Village, we came upon an elderly couple sitting on the ground finishing up caring for their the lawn. That finishing meant using a small scissors to be sure the edges of the grass were neat and even. The streets are lined with homes. not just historic, that are obviously as cared for as those of the great Ship Captains of yesteryear

Walking the historic downtown and peeking out at the harbor

The Parish  of St. Elizabeth's has its Festas as did our Village St. Anthony's  in Taunton (and still does), though we were not there at the time when one was happening. In the second photo you can see the Folkloric Portuguese dancers at the St. Elizabeth's Festa at a "time" as they would call it.  Cultural cousins from Taunton visiting and entertaining with the native dances we of Portuguese descent all share. These photos were taken during the Festa of Santa Domingo.

Providence Journal: "Wood Street in Bristol: A Mix of Community and Commerce"
Providence Journal, June 21, 2013 by Alex Kuffner
St. Elizabeth web site.

Ave Maria by the Portuguese in Bristol, Rhode Island
see site posted in blog post: Vimeo.

2015 Photographs by Sandra J. Pineault and  from Family archives
and Unpublished Book: "Searching for Isobel"



No comments:

Post a Comment