Frank Gates


New Street Named for Frank Gates

On November 30, 2006 The Derby Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to name a new street begin developed in the area of the Hotchkiss Hose Company Frank Gates Lane. Ironically Gates' grand father was one of the founding officers of Hotchkiss Hose when it was located on the other side of town. The following write-up by Robert Novak of the Derby Historical Society helped the Board of Aldermen make their decision:

Frank Gates was the last in a long line in the Gates family, who became
quite wealthy. What was interesting about them is they became wealthy
through business ventures in old Derby - as in what is now East Derby.
They never really invested in Birmingham. There was a Gates Hall in East Derby that was pretty much the central gathering place for people in the mid 19th century in old Derby.

Frank was the Sherriff of New Haven County at one point. The family lived in the same site, at the corner of Derby Avenue and Bank Street for over 170 years. It evolved into Derby's most beautiful mansion. Frank and his brother Ross never married, and when Frank died he left in his will that he wanted no one outside the family living in the house. Since he was the last Gates family member, this meant the house was torn down shortly after his death a little over 50 years ago. He left most of his family's assets to the many organizations he was involved with in the Valley, with the lion's share going to the New Haven Foundation, in order to benefit charitable organizations in the Valley area.

It is interesting that his family's monument at Oak Cliff Cemetery, which could have been huge, is actually modest compared to others, though it contains several pillars in it, which I think is highly symbolic as the family really was one the pillars of the community for many generations. His charity was legendary, and a lot of organizations, from the Humphreys House Association (who maintained the building before Derby Historical took it over in 1961) to Highland Golf Course, to attracting the Yale rowing team to Derby, to helping the Military Order of the Purple Heart get on their feet, he was pretty much involved in everything.

Frank Gates was a man of vision who left an enduring legacy for Derby and the surrounding cities when he established the Gates Fund at the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. He and his brother both left funds which to this day continue to be the largest single fund at the Foundation. Frank was an active member of many groups in Derby and the Valley throughout his life, but even in death, his legacy continues to make Derby a better place to live.

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