120-Acre Historic Farmland Won't Be Developed in Naugatuck

Franklin Andrew lived until he was 101 on his mountaintop.

Some good news for Naugatuck residents. The estate of Franklin Andrew plans to keep its 120-acre farm for agricultural purposes. 

Franklin died on January 27, 2013, and the estate’s attorney, Michael McVerry appeared before the Planning and Zoning Commission in June. 

During that meeting, McVerry said the “family has no intention of developing the land," which is located at Andrew Mountain Road, meeting minutes state.

In fact, all McVerry requested was an agricultural subdivision of the 120 acres in order to carry out Franklin’s will. 

Andrew lived until 101-years-old on the property. His grandfather purchased the land in 1869. In 2000, Andrew built a new home on the mountaintop. Two others houses he had lived in had burned down, the Hartford Courant reported at the time. 

This is what Patch wrote about Andrew when he celebrated his 100th birthday. 

The average heart beats 80 times per minute. That’s more than 42 million beats per year. Family and friends of Franklin Andrew Sr. gathered at his Naugatuck home on Sunday to celebrate his 100th year – his 4,204,800,000th heartbeat.

Frank sat on the porch of his custom built log cabin waiting for family and friends to arrive. The two-bedroom all-wood cabin sits on more than 100 acres of land. Perched atop Andrew Mountain, the highest point in New Haven County, the porch where Frank often sits overlooks much of the surrounding area.

“That’s Danbury, out that way,” said Frank’s youngest son, Franklin “Tim” Andrew Jr., pointing into the distance.

Frank feels at home on this mountain. He was born and raised just a few hundred feet from where he sits now. “The Summer Home,” as the family calls his childhood home, has since burned down but it was located in the adjacent field. When Frank decided he wanted to move back up to the mountain from his then-home on Woodruff Avenue, he had the log cabin built right near where The Summer House once stood.

But a lot has changed since Frank was born on this mountain in 1911.

When Frank was born, Life Savers candies had not yet been invented, and the first tank had not been built. The first Band-Aid had not yet been stuck and crossword puzzles had not made their debut. He turned 50 before audio cassettes went on the market and he celebrated 60 in the year of the VCR. He has lived through two world wars and seen 18 different presidencies, though Ronald Reagan was his favorite, he says.

Frank has seen a lot of change in his lifetime. He recalled driving his old Chevy to school at 16, and being the only car at the school besides the principal’s. Now, the cars of his family and friends fill his gravel driveway and flow onto the lush green lawn.

The gathering started at 1 p.m., but by 1:20 p.m. Frank had already received five of the same birthday card. There are plenty of 50th birthday cards at the store, his daughter Judy Mahan said, but apparently only one 100th.

“I got two 50s too, you know,” Frank joked.

And despite having “two 50s” behind him, Frank only stopped driving last year. This is “home beach,” he says, and he’s got everything he needs right here as long as his family keeps visiting. His visitors often include his four children, 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, among others.

Though he no longer drives on the road, Frank still navigates a golf cart around the property. This morning, that means driving down from the cabin to the pavilion a few hundred feet from the house.

“Where’s the seat belt on this thing?” Judy joked as Frank got behind the wheel.

Though most homes in Naugatuck don’t come with a party pavilion, it seemed like a no brainer to the Andrews. Each August, this home plays host to the entire extended family for the annual Andrew Family Reunion, and tarps and tents won’t do for this weekend long event. This year will be the 124th reunion.

Frank has a truly rich history himself, but the Andrew Family has a legacy even longer than his 100 years.

William Andrew, the first of the Andrews to arrive here from England, settled here in the early 1600s. One of his sons, Samuel Andrew, served as acting president of Harvard University and later helped to found Yale University. The Andrews also have familial ties to a governor – Robert Treat – and to a woman hung as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts.

The Andrew Family has been among the largest taxpayers in Naugatuck, owning much of the land that we call Naugatuck today. Frank’s father, George, owned all the buildings on one side of Church Street and the land where the YMCA is currently located. The Andrews even owned Hunters Mountain State Park – they sold it to the Whittemores who later donated it to the state.

The Andrew Family influence can be seen on signs across the borough. Andrew Mountain and Andrew Mountain Road were named after the family, as were Andrew Avenue and, consequently, Andrew Avenue School. George Andrew personally named Linden Park and later named George Street after himself.

Naugatuck was different then, he said, and the landscape has changed. Old buildings have been torn down and new ones have gone up. Back then, he said, there were lots of dirt roads and very few cars. People road horseback or had horse-drawn carriages, but many just walked.

“We used to come up the mountain and ride horseback,” Frank recalled. “Coming up here is the best part of the summer.”

He loved riding his horse, he said, but was also fortunate enough to have had a car at a young age. He recalled driving to high school for the two years that he went.

“I didn’t graduate. I quit second year,” he said. “I knew too much.”

He got a job making airplanes, he said, then did a few years at a bank. After that, he moved on to Lewis Engineering, where he worked more than 36 years until he retired. He’s been retired for 40 years now and has spent his time “just enjoying himself” since.

The secret to staying young is “thinking young,” he sais, “and thinking about pretty girls.”

His brother-in-law, Ken Bartholomew, says the secret is also in his “country living.”

“Life is only a number,” Bartholomew, 85, said. He said he has always had a good relationship with Frank and described him as “happy-go-lucky.”

As far as a birthday wish for Frank, “I can’t say ‘a long life’ because he’s 100 already,” he said. Instead, he wished him 10 more years.

If Ken gets his wish, Frank will be under the pavilion next year to celebrate the big family reunion – 125 years – as well as his 4,246,848,000th heartbeat.

tim andrew July 09, 2014 at 10:07 AM
Nice story, Brian, thank you-Tim Andrew


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