Legacy | Legacy | Forging Memories: Tom Frew Rediscovers Newhall’s Iconic Blacksmith Shop
Thomas “Tom” McNaughton Frew IV shares a captivating story about his grandfather’s blacksmith shop, T.M. Frew & Son Practical Horseshoers & General Blacksmithing, nestled at 24313 Main Street, Newhall. A beloved Newhall community leader, Thomas McNaughton Frew IV, 94, died Jan. 12 in Camarillo.
Join Tom Frew in this journey, where a vintage photograph prompts a fascinating journey through time, raising questions about the building’s origins and its evolution.
Born and raised in Newhall, Frew was a third-generation blacksmith who lived in Newhall for more than 70 years and served many community groups as a volunteer.
“Tom was an incredible person. He was strong, incredibly loyal and decent. He was a gentle man and legitimate in everything he did,” said close friend and City Councilmember Laurene Weste, “He is one of our legacies, a real gift to the community.”
A longtime resident of Newhall, Frew raised his family in a Heritage Lane home that he designed and built around a heritage oak tree.
Tom’s grandfather Thomas McNaughton Frew II opened the Frew Blacksmith Shop on today’s Main Street (formerly Spruce Street) in July 1900, after a grocer he met told him that the town’s blacksmith had recently died and the blacksmith shop was for sale. With horses being the main transportation and oil wells and refineries the prominent local industry, there was a lot of business that kept them busy. Thomas Frew III followed in his father’s footsteps, taking over the shop when he returned from serving in World War I.
Thomas McNaughton Frew IV was born Nov. 28, 1929. He attended Newhall Elementary School and traveled over the hill to San Fernando High School. After graduation, he went to Ventura Junior College, then UCLA, where he was a member of Theta Delta Chi. At the end of his first year at UCLA, he was drafted to serve in the military in the Korean War.
When he returned from the war, he planned on pursuing a degree in cinematography, but his father was ill and needed him to run the business. Reluctantly, he agreed. His father died in 1966 and his mother in 1968. The town’s need for a blacksmith shop waned with fewer farms and decreased oil drilling, allowing Tom to close the shop with a clear conscience in 1970. By that time, Tom had achieved his Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and went to Europe to work on a film.
After he left welding behind, he worked for a commercial production company, utilizing his talents as a photographer. He shot thousands of photos of local people and subjects over the years; many of these photographs are now part of the SCV Historical Society collection.
His production company responsibilities included budgeIng and location services. He would approach a home that he wanted to use for a shoot with a cash offer and a bouquet of flowers. In a twist of fate many years later, a location manager knocked on Frew’s Heritage Lane home to secure its location for the TV show “Freaks and Geeks.” It is not known if they brought him flowers.
While raising his family in the Santa Clarita Valley, he also embraced community service, donating his talents to church projects, working with the Newhall-Saugus Chamber of Commerce, and serving on the Newhall School District Governing Board. He also enjoyed his time on stage with the Newhall Community Players.
He threw parties that were legendary, often being written up in The Signal’s society column for their lavish or outlandish themes. For a “Big Circus” party, his neighbors couldn’t believe their eyes when a real elephant sauntered up to join the crowd. Weste said that Tom was also one of a group of local movers and shakers who would play extreme practical jokes on each other.
“It was a grand time to be in Newhall,” she added.
Tom was the kind of person who would share his knowledge with anyone who wanted to learn; he spent several years as a docent at Hart Park and (then) Heritage Junction teaching visitors of all ages about the history of our valley. He also served on the board of directors of Friends of Hart Park and as the President of the SCV Historical Society. He got involved in the improvements planned for downtown Newhall by serving as a founding member of the Newhall Redevelopment Committee in 1996.
“He wasn’t a mentor exactly, but a partner,” said Philip Scorza, host of the show, “Point of Interest,” on SCVTV. “He was on my show four or five times. He was a link to the past of the community. As president of the Historical Society, Tom led with a sure, serious hand. Many evenings we would grab a cup of coffee at the Saugus Café and he would tell stories about that place and a whole bunch of other places like it in the area. If I could do one of my evenings of local theatre again, I would have Tom Frew there to meet and greet and tell the story of the Frew Family of Newhall. I betcha we would fill the house!”
Always the showman, Tom reveled in an honor bestowed upon him by a group of community volunteers, when he was made Grand Marshal of the Fourth of July Parade in 2000 and rode in an open convertible past his family’s former blacksmith shop.
In 2003, Frew decided to make another major life change and announced his plans to move to Camarillo, where he had invested in a nursery in Somis. Before he left, the Santa Clarita City Council honored him with a special award and key to the City. When his son Tom Jr. died, Weste said his friends tried to talk him into moving back to the Santa Clarita Valley. She said he told her that he moved once and that was enough. Moving was hard.
Tom is preceded in death by his son, Thomas M. Frew V. He is survived by his son, Eric (Heather Noelte), daughter-in-law Liana Frew, and grandsons Kevin, Garret and Daniel.
Within the oral history presented in this program, there may be offensive and incorrect portrayals of peoples, cultures, characters and behaviors. SCVTV does not condone these incorrect, outdated and offensive portrayals, but recognizes their existence as part of American and Santa Clarita history. Stereotypes were wrong in the past and are wrong today. We acknowledge their damaging and harmful effects. We hope that the presentation of the content in this program will enhance our understanding of eras before, lead to dialogue and especially a commitment to more inclusive practices going forward as well as a more equitable and representative future.