ANDOVER MAIN STREET CHANGES FOREVER
INFORMATION TAKEN FROM THE ANDOVER NEWSPAPER
AND THE 1959 AND 1960 HISTORY OF ANDOVER YEARBOOKS
HISTORICAL PHOTOS SUPPLIED BY TOWN OF ANDOVER HISTORIAN ROBERT A. BAKER
STORY COMPILED BY WILLIAM A. GREENE 2006
In February of 1957 the State of New York Department of Transportation began to survey Main Street of Andover, trying to make it a safer highway to travel on. Nothing this major had been done since 1914 when brick was put down to make it easier to travel with the new fangled automobiles that were taking over the roads. Blacktop had been put over the bricks a few times, but now they were going to widen the road, put modern and brighter lighting over the road, put in traffic lights to control the flow of traffic, widen the intersections and change the course of the main road heading out of Andover towards Alfred Station. This would eliminate what used to be the main route out of Andover that took you up Elm Street, then to Barney Street and up to Water Street and stop. Then proceed up Hardy Hill and then onto New York Route 21, as we know it today. Many a wreck took place coming down Hardy Hill and it would eliminate all of the traffic going by the school with all of the children around.
In October of 1959 J. Burch McMorran, State Superintendent of Public Works, announced receipt of a low bid of $616, 676.66 from the “Les” Strong Construction Co. of Whitney Point, New York, for reconstruction of a 1.49 miles section of Route 21 in Andover. Eight bids were received
The new asphalt concrete highway had a 44 ft. wide pavement along the first 1,600 ft. on Main Street in Andover, then became 24 ft. wide for the next 1,400 ft. and then switched to 22 ft for the remaining 4,200 ft. of the project. New bridges were constructed over Dyke and East Valley Creeks.
Included in the project was the construction of drainage structures and facilities, removal of 28 buildings and 26 trees, the planting of 45 new trees, installing of traffic signals, erection of traffic signs, landscaping and miscellaneous related improvements.
Work began in November of 1959 and by December 17 many familiar houses of Andover were gone. Workmen removed John Lever’s barn and the Harry & Mayme Joyce house that stood on the right hand side of South Main Street after the bridge over Dyke Creek coming from then Route 17. On the other side of the road they had removed the Floyd Coats house and moved the John Karkanes home, now owned by Steve Swartz further back on its lot, so they could widen Main Street. Trees were removed from the south end of Main Street and the Empire Gas Company had begun moving their gas lines and the village water lines were being moved.
The W.D. Hunter Gas Station was gone that once stood at the end of what is now Les McKay’s “Trading Post” parking lot, at the foot of Lynch Road. The Hammell house that stood where the Andover Fire Department now stands was gone. The Nichols Bros. Gas Station had started moving their gas pumps from the street, back to the front of their building. This property is now owned by Tufty Ceramics.
On the other end of Main Street, by the Elm Street intersection, Edson Langworthy’s Elm Street Garage was torn down to make way for a straight shot for the new road to go up over the hill, instead of going up Elm Street. He had been in operation on that location for over 45 years. He had purchased the building from the Cannon family, which had built the building in the early 1870’s for a horse and carriage shed.
Porches were taken off Charlie Gleason’s two houses on the other side of Main Street. One building was torn down in the fall of 2005 and the other is being used as a storage house, belonging to the Andover House Antique Shop. The porch was taken off the brick building that housed Dr. Common’s dentist office and the Stephen’s Insurance Agency, now an apartment building. The Joyce Hotel had the canopy over the sidewalk removed to make way for the wider road. The 113-year-old Joyce Hotel burnt on April 27, 1973 and was torn down in the fall of 1974 making way for the Andover Medical Center.
The bridge on Water Street was taken out, closing that street. The houses belonging to Milan Mitchell, by the Andover Ponds, Sidney Kaple, the Owen house and the John Dolan house, were all removed along the north side of Water Street.
One of the oldest buildings on Main Street was taken down in the first week of January 1960. The Nichols Brother Garage was torn down and a new one built, erected to make way for the new road. The building that was torn down was nearly a century old. Authentic records go back seventy years to when the building was owned by Jeremiah Driscoll. He operated a wagon repair shop and sold wagons, farm implements, horse equipment, harness, saddles and fancy buggies. Added to this building was a repair shop that made new wheels for wagons, mended and replaced worn harnesses and made steel rims for various wheels, much in demand during that period.
P. C. Lynch later purchased the building and sold McCormick farm machinery and automobiles from there till he moved further up Main Street to where the Maier’s Market now stands. The building he occupied later became a pool hall, and was torn down in 1965 to make way for the building of the Market Basket, now Maier’s Market.
After P. C. moved out and up the street, the building was used as a youth center and recreational club, under supervision of volunteer chaperons.
In April of 1919, Roy Parker purchased the building from P. C. Lynch and ground was broken for a brick building between the wooden structure and what was known as the Enterprise Block, making a solid block to the corner of Greenwood Street.
Although a wooden building, it was the scene of mechanical activity and several garage men have serviced and repaired automobiles there since Mr. Parker transformed it into a garage.
After Howard and Don Nichols moved the gas pumps to the inside of the walk they erected a modern cement block repair shop in back of them. This would later become Fox’s Garage, owned and operated by Merle Fox. He would later sell the building to Karen Tufty.
Within a month or so three buildings on the north end of Main Street by Elm Street were taken down. They were the Nye and Padden Tractor Sales, the Grange Hall formally the Town Hall and Legion Hall and the Mrs. McGinty Bakery.
Work continued on though the summer replacing gas and water lines, replacing curbs and side walks, installing the new streetlights, putting up flashing stop and caution lights, and finally cutting the new road from the intersection of Main and Elm Streets, up to Route 21. The new road went through the Langworthy, Temple, Conde, Andover Central School, Mitchell, Kaple, Fox and Hackett properties up over the hill to join State Route 21 on the old Phillipson and Hardy properties on top of Hardy Hill. The Hardy property is now owned by Donald Spencer.
By December of 1960, the project was completed and approved by the New York State Department Inspectors, coming in at $20,000 below the estimated bid.
Andover waited until June 30 & July 1, 1961 to celebrate the new road. A special addition of the Andover News was printed with all the history of the building of the new road. Included were stories of the businesses of that era along with past history of Andover. It was decided to have a two-day celebration. Committees were put together and the ball started rolling. When they got done, it was a two-day event that no one had seen the likes of before. It was written in the Andover News as the biggest and best event ever to hit Andover. The parade on Saturday night was the largest in Andover’s history.
Was it worth the loss of all of the old buildings and the history they held? On a warm fall afternoon, when the leaves are in full color, take a drive up or down State Route 21 through Andover and you make up your own mind.
And so it goes...........
Progress redesigns our small towns.
Never to be the same as before.