The Bristol Polish-American Citizens Club came into being on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1923, when small groups of patriotic local men of Polish stock met at the "Old Meadow Street Fire House" to discuss the blessings of American citizenship. Most of the groups had migrated from an enslaved Poland where especially those under the Russian rule had been denied the freedoms which they believed were their heritage. To people like them with a fierce love of liberty, American Citizenship with its rights and privileges as well as its responsibilities meant the attainment of their fondest dreams.
Some of these "Founding Fathers" of the Club had already had a taste of success in this land of free enterprise. While most of them worked by the sweat of their brows in local factories, a number of them had established small businesses which today are second generation affairs and fast approaching the third generation. Practically all of these men lost no time in acquiring homes of their own, where they brought up large families. They slaved and saved, so that their children could avail themselves of the opportunities that the American system of education offered.
The result of the St. Patrick's Day meeting was the organization of a Club dedicated to an intensive campaign of encouraging American Citizenship among recent emigrants. This policy was later expanded in making of voters. Incidentally, throughout its' seventy-five years of existence, never has the Club failed to espouse a worthy cause where it concerned local, state or national welfare.
At the annual meeting of November 1926, it was decided to incorporate the Bristol Polish-American Citizens' Club, in the state of Connecticut. A charter and constitution with its by-laws was formed. Be it known, this club's name shall be: the Bristol Polish-American Citizens Club, Inc. It is an organization fostering good citizenship. This tablet containing the charter and constitution, with its by-laws that were presented by the State of Connecticut to the Club confirming its incorporation, was dated on December 16, 1926, now hangs in the Officers office.
During the first six years of its' existence, the ambitious new organization had rented quarters on the top floor of the "Missal Building" on North Main Street. Later, it was decided to move to the "Szydlowski" property on Meadow Street, which it outgrew in a year. The next move, a triumphant one for the Club, was to take possession of its own building and property. This called for unbridled celebration.
Exercises dedicating the new home for the Bristol Polish-American Citizens' Club were held on November 16, 1930. Here a proud organization now grown to a membership of about two hundred under the wise presidency of John Gavryl sat down to a banquet in the main hall of the building which houses it at 462 North Main Street. Purchased from the City of Bristol, it was formerly the "Uncas Fire House" and also the "Club Chaplain" now remodeled to accommodate the Club.
Another high point in the History of the Club was the acquisition of the "Homer Judd" property, as the site for a new and permanent home. World War II brought a temporary halt to the plans for erecting a fine spacious building on the lot which has 150 feet frontage on North Main Street and parking spaces for many cars.
The War Years, especially during the Presidencies of Stanley B. Markiewicz and John Kowalczyk, were eventful ones. It was the Bristol Polish-American Citizens Club that instituted the idea of send off dinners for the boys entering the Armed Services. The first send off dinner was held on February 8, 1941, at which time President Markiewicz presented Mayor Jennings with an American Flag that now adorns the City Council Chambers in commemoration of the event.
President Kowalczyk had the pleasant assignment of greeting the returning servicemen and presenting them with tokens of the Clubs appreciation. During the war years, administrators had made considerable purchases of bonds to help the War effort.
On June 18, 1950, the first shovel full of dirt was turned to start the escalation of the new existing Bristol Polish-American Citizens Club. The silver-plated shovel dated on a plaque June 18, 1950, still hangs in the Bar & Game Room.
The Bristol Polish-American Citizens Club, having been completed for occupancy during early March 1951, is Bristol's biggest attraction - except for the arena, finished late summer. Membership was 25¢ a month. Its combined bar and game room boasts a horseshoe shaped bar, meeting rooms, women's lounge, men's and women's lavatories, a kitchen, a spacious ballroom and a huge arena equipped with folding bleachers. Lower rooms facilities and additional storage rooms. The two big parking lots have parking for hundreds of cars. The Club is committed to the community of Bristol and surrounding towns for extending its Club facilities to all religious and ethnic organizations.
During the 1950's into the 1960's (also known as the polka glory years), the PACC was an extreme hot spot with Friday night polka dances featuring all the polka greats such as Joe Rock, Gene Wisniewski, The Connecticut Twins, Frank Wojnarowski, Walt Solek, and many, many more. Anyone who is anyone in the New England polka field has played at the Bristol PACC.
During the year of 1956, a Constitution and By-Laws Committee was formed to revise its By-Laws. The revised Constitution and By-Laws were presented at a special membership meeting held for this purpose, on January 6, 1957 and accepted on that date.
Another high point in our Club's History was the Club's participation in the City of Bristol's Bi-Centennial Celebration 1785-1985. On June 16,1985 the Club participated in the City of Bristol's Bi-Centennial Parade. The Club's Bi-Centennial Committee decided to enter a float sponsored by "The Bristol Polish-American Citizens Club". We rented a flat bed truck and decorated it in Polish fashion and colors with a Polish-American band playing the music; we had three couples dancing. We entered our decorated float into the Parade. Jubilant to say, the Polish Club's float won first prize as a fraternal Civic Float.
Also commemorating Bristol's Bi-Centennial, our Polish Club's Bi-Centennial Committee sponsored on July 19, 20, 21, 1985, a three-day weekend Beer Festival in its two big parking lots. Two Polish dance bands playing every day, many amusement rides, many tents with games of chance. Plenty of beer and Polish-American food outside and inside of the Clubrooms. Dancing in the evenings was held in the ballroom while broadcasting "live" events and music from the Bar-Game room. Chairman Walter Roman announces the Beer Festival was a huge success and many thanks to the Bicentennial Committee and the Women's Auxiliary.
During the summer months of 1997, a new cement ramp built for the Handicapped accessible with new entrance doors leading into a remodeled entrance way to the Soccer Dome (the former arena), Ballroom and Bar-Game room.
The Club and its facilities had served all of the Polish and Civic Organizations which needed it for purposes of having their fraternal meetings or social affairs. Many of our young and older people have had their stags and wedding receptions here and occasionally, after a funeral, members of the family and friends meet in one of the Club's halls for coffee, pastries or light luncheons.
As we have recently commemorated our Club's 90th Anniversary , we look forward to the Bristol Polish-American Citizens' Club's 100th year Centennial in the year of our Lord 2023.