By Scott Yeomans, Town Historian
- Before 17th Century â€“ Andover served as the hunting and fishing grounds of native peoples such as the Nipmuck and Pequot.
- Around 1700 â€“ English settlement of the Andover area began shortly after the building of the Hartford – Norwich Road (much of old route 6 and route 87).
- 1747 â€“ Parishioners of the First and Second Ecclesiastical Societies in Coventry, the Second Society in Lebanon and the First Society in Hebron successfully petitioned for the creation of the Andover Ecclesiastical Society.
- 1848 â€“ Andover was incorporated as the 146th town in Connecticut.
- 1849 â€“Â The Hartford, Providence and Fishkill Railroad Company begins regular train service between Hartford and Willimantic, via Andover.
- 1860s â€“Â During the Civil War years, much of the selectmen’s time was spent finding men to fullfill Andover’s quotas each time that President Lincoln issued a call for more soldiers.
- 1880 â€“Â Andover’s railroad station was set afire by an ember from a passing engine. The fire spread to several nearby structures burning them to the ground as well. A contemporary diary entry of the day states that the entire village was nearly lost that day.
- 1882 â€“ The Andover Library Association was formed to look after a growing collection of books that were assembled for the townspeople’s use.
- 1886 â€“Â Organized in 1886 with 76 local shareholders, the Andover Creamery Corporation was in the business of making butter for 29 years. Apparently they were pretty good at it. The company’s entry in the 1893 Worlds Columbian Exposition (Worlds Fair) won the company a bronze metal. They were forced out of business when the big milk companies began collecting the cream as well as the milk from the farmers and started making their own cream products.
- 1888 â€“Â Andover became the first town in the state to vote to consolidate its schools.
- 1889 â€“Â Another important industry arrived in Andover when Myron Yeomans enticed Fred Case of Manchester to build a paper mill on Hop River. A large pond was created by damming the river and a canal was used to bring water to the 24 h.p. water wheel that first powered this plant. In 1900 this mill was the largest employer in town. The men worked here 12 hours per day, for which they recieved $1.25. The mill burned several times and was rebuilt each time. Today some of the later buildings house the towns road maintenance equipment.
- 1893 â€“Â As Andover had no town owned buildings prior to the building of the “Old Town Hall” in 1893, all public meetings, elections and local court, were held in the Conference House at the Congregational Church. This very versatile building was built shortly after the new church was opened in 1833. It was constructed with timbers and other material salvaged from the demolition of the old meeting house.
This building also served as the library from 1882 until 1927 and as a town schoolhouse from 1888 until 1903. The Grange and most other local organizations held their meetings there.By 1892, the townspeople, led by the Grangers, decided that a public hall was needed. Mr. Edward Reed donated $500 toward the project and Mr. E. K. Post donated a parcel of land for a building. The town appro-priated $1,000, established a building committee of W. B. Sprague, A. H. Lyman, E. H. Cook, H. G. Phelps and F. W. Swift, and hired Mr. F. W. Smith to build the hall. The completed building had a large hall with an elevated stage at one end and a small ante room behind that where small meetings could be held. The building was heated by a large wood burning stove and lighted by many kerosene lanterns on the walls. A dedication ceremony was held on June 3, 1893.
With the addition of the dining room, which was added in 1910, the building was much as it is today.
- 1896 â€“Â With the encouragement of a state offer to donate $200 in books to any town creating a free public library, the townspeople voted in 1895 to do so. Thus the Andover Public Library opened its doors on January 1, 1896.
- 1903 â€“Â A two room schoolhouse was built by the town on what was then Hebron Rd. (now Center Street).
- 1916 â€“Â The Andover Hotel burned on the night of October 16. Three men were playing cards and getting drunk in the livery area of the then closed Hotel. Apparently a lantern was knocked over and the whole place went up in a spectacular fire. Using water from several steam engine tenders, the railroad station (across the street) was saved. The men were not so lucky, all perished.
- 1925 â€“Â The Half-way House burned to the ground. Started around 1795, this large inn stood near the present day intersection of Route 6 and Merritt Valley Road (west end). It was half-way between Hartford and Norwich on the then Hartford-Norwich Turnpike (roughly, Bailey Road, Hutchinson Road, Route 6, lower Center Street, Route 6, Merritt Valley Road, Route 87). In the days of stage coach transportation, this inn served as a place where the stage would stop, take on fresh horses and the passengers could partake of food and drink.
- 1926 â€“Â Electrical service arrived on main street in 1926, no longer would a weekly trip to Willimantic be necessary to charge the batteries for one’s radio. 1926 was also the year that much talk of building a lake began to become reality. The fall and winter were spent frantically trying to clear what was then Cheney Hollow of trees and brush. In April, 1927 the sluiceway gate was closed and the lake began to fill.
- 1927 â€“Â The Burnap – Skinner Memorial Building was turned over to the town. In order that this building could occupy the prestigious corner lot, the large house that now sits nearby had to be moved. This was quite the undertaking in the days before hydraulic equipment.
The library, built with money bequeathed for the purpose by Mr. Elliot P. Skinner, son-in-law of Daniel Burnap, is still in use today as the town’s Library.
- 1927 â€“Â Andover Lake was created.
- 1938 â€“Â In February, a group of townspeople gathered together and formed the Andover Volunteer Fire Department Association. In May the town voted to purchase its first fire truck. Soon after, the old Sackett’s store building was purchased and remodeling begun to convert it into a fire house. Though abandoned by the fire department in 1990, the building continues today as a meeting place for various town organizations.
- 1940s â€“Â During the war years, Andover’s populace spent countless hours manning the observation post, attending first aid classes, collecting scrap, and publishing a newsletter for their sons and daughters in the military.
- 1948 â€“Â By 1946, it was concluded that the old center school needed replacing and the first portion of the current elementary school was opened in September, 1948.
- 1949 â€“Â The towns first zoning committee was created. The deed restrictions that controlled land use and building in the lake area were about to expire. Without this defacto zoning, people were very concerned that the area would become less desirable.
- 1952 â€“Â The town bought the property that for many years served as our dump, and today is the transfer station.
- 1957 â€“Â Andover joined with Hebron and Marlborough to build the RHAM High School. Prior to this, our students attended Windham High School.
- 1963 â€“Â This year brought the opening of the Town Office Building on School Road. Prior to this, the selectmen ran the town “out of their back pocket” with meetings being held in the town hall. This was also the year that the post office was built on Route 6.
- 1968 â€“Â The town purchased an old mill building on Long Hill Road and began using it to house the town’s road maintenance equipment. A kennel area was added so that today this building is the Town Garage and Dog Pound.
- 1973 â€“Â The last train ran through Andover.
- 1975 â€“Â The railroad tracks were removed and the right-of-way was purchased by the State. The town completed the construction of two new ballball fields along the river on Long Hill Road.
- 1984 â€“Â The town began participating in the Resident State Trooper program.
- 1986 â€“Â The School Board sells all of the town owned school buses and hires an outside firm to provide transportation for our students.
- 1988 â€“Â The Andover Fire Department Association turns 50 and throws a party. The activities following the parade prove so popular that the Recreation Commission continues the event as Andover Fun Day for several years.
- 1990 â€“Â The new fire house was completed on School Road and a Vietnam Memorial was dedicated.
- 1992 â€“Â All of the town’s war memorial stones were relocated from their scattered locations to a plot at the intersection of Route 6 and Hebron Road. This was also the year that the town closed its landfill and built the transfer station to handle residents trash.
- 1997 â€“Â With the support of the town, the Andover Historical Society opened its museum in the town hall. This multifaceted exhibit offers a glimpse of the life and times of Andover past.
More information on the History of Andover can be found at Scott Yeomans’ web site.