Famous Fairfielder - Annie Burr Jennings (1855-1939)
Annie B. Jennings was the daughter of Oliver Burr Jennings, one of the original stockholders in the Standard Oil Company. The Jennings family already had a long and successful legacy in Fairfield, but it was the incredible wealth and generosity of Annie that changed the scope of the town.
Annie was involved in many different committees during her time, and funded many public works. She and her brother, Oliver Gould Jennings, would become principal benefactors of the Fairfield Public Library (of which their father helped establish before them). As a good friend of Mabel Osgood Wright, she convinced her friend to start the Audubon Society in Fairfield, and Annie donated most of the land that it still retains today. She also donated the large fir tree on the town green, which now has the tradition of being decorated and lit up in the winter holiday season.
Jennings Beach is named after her, due to her tremendous donation of sixteen acres of land along the coast to the town. And when the town politicians were debating over where to place the first high school, Annie got fed up with the bickering and purchased a house on Unquowa Rd and gave it to the town. This would become Fairfield High School for many years, until the high school merged into Andrew Warde. The building is now home of Tomlinson Middle School.
In her personal life, Annie remained single her entire life. As a tremendously wealthy woman, she could maintain a significant amount of independence, something she never wanted to give up. For some time she housed the false Princess Anastasia, after being introduced to her by Annie’s close friend, Princess Xenia of Russia. The false Anatasia grew on Annie’s nerves after two years, and she was asked to leave. (Both DNA results and the discovery of the remaining bones of the Romanov family proved Ana Anderson’s false claim.)
When she died in 1939, her estate, Sunnie-Holme, was left to her relatives and many of her staff were bequeathed vast sums of money for their years in her service (her will stated that her maid would obtain $50,000- a grand sum for the 40’s!), provided they still worked for her when she died. Annie changed the scope of Fairfield for the better, and left a huge mark on the town.