Letter: Two historic homes in jeopardy

A sign in front of this historic home at 250 Gulf Street states that it is scheduled for demolition.

A sign in front of this historic home at 250 Gulf Street states that it is scheduled for demolition.

To the Editor:

As the festivities marking the 375th anniversary of Milford’s founding draw to a conclusion — with parades and galas behind us — Milford residents would do well to take note of the city’s dwindling collection of 18th century homes.

We should ask ourselves how much of Milford’s colonial heritage will be on display for the 400th anniversary. When residents and visitors gather in 2039, will they have to rely on photographs of our built heritage? What will our streetscapes look like when Dutch gambrels and 18th century saltboxes have been replaced by overscale apartment complexes?

Two houses on Gulf Street, #234 and #250, are in jeopardy right now; lying outside of the two historic districts, they are not protected and homeowners are free to do what they will. Number 250 Gulf Street is scheduled for demolition in mid September.

Though they lie outside Historic District #1 and the South of the Green Historic District, doesn’t it stand to reason that homes dating back to the year 1740 or 1760 deserve protection and stewardship? Isn’t it incumbent upon the owner of such a house to preserve it for future generations? Why else buy one, if not for an appreciation of antique homes and a keen interest in history?

In these challenging times, when many are struggling to make ends meet, it is easy to dismiss historic preservation as a “luxury issue” best left to dilettantes, dabblers and retirees. Yet those gaping holes where a 17th or 18th century home once stood diminish us all: Our New England small towns are simply not the same, and will never be the same, without them.

As the observation of the 375th anniversary of Milford’s founding draws to a close, let us all vow to cherish and protect what remains.

Michele Kramer

Milford Preservation Trust

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  • Arlene B

    I am deeply upset that Lance and June Poland plan to demolish the home
    Mr. Poland’s parents owned and loved, the historic Elijah Bryan House,
    c.1790. This beautiful example of 18th century architecture is one of only 18
    period homes left in Milford – and Milford was a thriving, pivotal
    colonial-era town.

    Mr. Poland claims the current condition of the home requires demolition
    – even though his parents maintained the home up until their death a few years
    ago. Milford Preservation Trust offered to absorb the cost for a historic
    home assessment by a qualified professional – to which the Polands have
    NOT responded. What are they afraid of?

    The Polands may say they tried to sell the home but received no offers.
    Yes, the home was listed for sale for a short time – no description, no
    pictures -–no effort to sell. DEMOLITION IS A CHOICE, not a necessity. It will
    take far less money to restore the present structure than to demolish and build
    a new home in its place. I understand the Poland’s daughter will live in
    a newly-built home on the property. One can only assume the fond
    memories from visiting Grandma and Grandpa’s home – I cannot understand my they would want to demolish their legacy and Milford’s history.

    New homes can and are easily duplicated anywhere. Historic treasures, such
    as 250 Gulf Street, cannot be replicated. Once it is gone, it is lost
    forever.

    I am praying for a last-minute reprieve and that the Polands will
    reconsider this shortsighted decision to deprive their family of their history
    and by extension, Milford’s history.

    • JustSayinEP

      “It will take far less money to restore the present structure than to demolish and build a new home in its place.”

      Usually, the opposite is true – it’s MUCH, much cheaper to build new than perform a major renovation.

      • Arlene B

        JustSayin, there are exceptions but this is largely a myth perpetrated by developers, builders, contractors and owners who would like to take the quick, easy and (for them) lucrative way out. I restored a Victorian and did not experience any of the issues you indicated above. 250 Gulf is, in may ways,modern. It was a safe, comfortable home for years, to Donald and June Poland. How can a well-maintained property degrade to uninhabitable in less than a year? Renovating a back addition, leaving the historic main structure intact, would be an option – and much less refuse in a landfill. Historic renovation tax credits are available in 2015 and there is a strong possibility 250 Gulf would qualify.

  • FakeJoker

    “Home owners are free to do what they will” Private property owners using the property they pay taxes on as they see fit…the horror!

    • Arlene B

      FakeJoker, agreed that homeowners should be able to do what they want to their property. However, when you own a Milford landmark, like 250 Gulf, you have a responsibility to maintain the structure. It is a very reasonable alternative to restore and sensitively update the home. Tearing it down and building a McMansion will most likely not be more cost effective. The MPT is offering a FREE assessment to the Polands to determine just this point.

      • FakeJoker

        So you don’t agree…

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