Drew Friedman: One In Half A Million

Drew Friedman was a pillar of downtown Westport. A major landowner, a founder of the Westport Downtown Merchants Association and landlord of restaurants like Onion Alley, Bobby Q’s and Acqua, he influenced much of Main Street.

His holdings once included the original Westport Public Library building on the Post Road between Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza (now Starbucks and Freshii). He also owned Post Road property beyond downtown. And was a presence in Weston too, as the owner of Cobb’s Mill Inn.

He died in February 2016, at 86.

Drew Friedman and his wife Laura Papallo Friedman, at Cobb’s Mill Inn. (Photo/Patricia Gay)

Now Friedman is back in the news.

In his will, he left $500,000 to set up a “Drew Friedman Community Arts Center.”

But it’s not a place.

It’s a foundation.

Friedman’s former business partner Nick Visconti asked artist/photographer Miggs Burroughs — whose “Tunnel Vision” project is installed next to and across from some of Friedman’s former properties — and Visconti’s sister Louise Fusco to join him on the foundation board.

Their mission is to give $50,000 a year to one or more worthy artists and/or arts organizations and activities in Westport or Weston.

Nick Visconti, MIggs Burroughs and Louise Fusco announce the fulfillment of Drew Friedman’s dream.

So far, money has gone to Homes With Hope, CLASP Homes, the Westport Arts Center and Westport Historical Society. It will help fund art classes and activities for under-served students and young adults. This spring, an art exhibit will showcase all their work.

In addition, the foundation will award 2 scholarships, of $7,500 each, so high school students with need can attend an arts college, or art classes at a community college.

A special gala at the Westport Woman’s Club on May 17 will celebrate the arts program — and artists’ — great accomplishments.

Though not an artist himself, Friedman married one. His wife Bobbie created memorable works of art on canvas, and in clay and bronze, in a beautiful studio he built at their Westport home.

Now Bobby Q’s, Acqua and Cobb’s Mill are all gone.

So are Drew and Bobbie Friedman.

But thanks to his generosity and foresight, the arts — and artists — in Westport and Weston will live on for years.

(Candidates for Drew Friedman Community Arts Center scholarships should click here for more information.)

13 responses to “Drew Friedman: One In Half A Million

  1. What a wonderful legacy.

  2. Rozanne Gates

    Thank you to Drew Friedman and family. Having Miggs on the board is a brilliant move.

  3. Bobbie Herman

    Not only did Drew appreciate the visual arts, he was a lover of beautiful music as well. Hs second wife, Laura Papallo, shown in the first photo with Drew, is a lovely opera singer. My husband Paul and I had the pleasure of having Laura guide us through Venice and Padua a few years ago during which she sang several arias. Bellisimo!

  4. Galina Babkin

    Drew was wonderful, kind and generous man. He was among the founders of the Sunrise Rotary club in Westport. He was the first person I met when I joined the club. I will always remember him.

  5. Julie Fatherley

    Hooray to all those wonderful souls who have heart and vision to give
    back to the community in such a generous way. Love the “game plan”
    for the money…Thank you, Miggs, for being a guiding light in this project.

    Julie Fatherley

  6. Michael Calise

    This is great news and a wonderful post. Drew was a great example of a sensitive and spirited businessman

  7. Thank you, Drew, for making Westport a better place, And thanks, Nick and Miggs, for your continuing welcome contributions to our town. Where can I send my check to the new Drew Friedman Community Arts Center?

  8. Any donations would be greatly appreciated, and they can be sent to The Drew Friedman Community Arts Center, Inc., 55 Greens Farms Road, Suite 200, Box 22, Westport, CT 06880. Thank you!

  9. Drew Friedman was a real “mensch”. I have such fond and funny memories of going to the old library upstairs and playing bingo. Drew would call out the numbers sitting there in a pair of shorts and a tee shirt. A regular guy worth zillions. And how we all laughed when Drew pulled the number 22, and Betty Lou Cummings would call out..two-two. Maybe you had to be there to appreciate that. Just such a funny memory of Drew Friedman and the bingo game.

  10. Terrific!

    Sent from my iPhone


  11. Mrs. Drew Friedman

    Thank you for using Patricia Gay’s photo of Drew and his wife Laura the day they took over the Cobbs Mill Inn. The waterfall was spectacular!