Preservationists are gearing up for battle, following an application that proposes a 44-unit apartment building on a historic site in downtown Milford.
Patrick Rose of Fairfield filed an application with the Planning and Zoning Board Aug. 30 to build 44 one-bedroom units and 1,269 square feet of office space at 67 Prospect St., which was once the property of Milford founder Peter Prudden.
The application notes that the single-family home on the site will be demolished, and trees taken down.
While site plans and preliminary drawings have been submitted for a public hearing and review by the Planning and Zoning Board, there has been no application made for a demolition permit yet.
City Historian Arthur Stowe, who has the power to delay demolition by invoking the city’s demolition delay ordinance, expects he will invoke the demolition delay once the builder applies for the demolition permit.
If Stowe deems the property historically or architecturally significant, he can use the city’s demolition delay ordinance to force a 120-day stay on the demolition. Stowe has 30 days to file that application from the time a developer files an “intent to demolish” application with the building department. The 120-day period provides time to seek alternatives to demolition.
Former City Historian Richard Platt said the lot, just short of one acre, is a key part to Milford history.
“The Rev. Peter Prudden was granted this home lot when these were divided in 1646, Lot #40, seven acres on present-day Prospect Street,” Platt said. “Not only was this the home of the leader of the group who founded Milford, but most of the early settlers were buried in his garden, the area to the rear of the property.
“Because this was Milford’s first burying ground makes this as close to what we may call ‘sacred ground’ to descendants of the founders,” Platt said.
The Milford Preservation Trust and the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), along with several concerned neighbors, have been monitoring the David Baldwin House at 67 Prospect Street “with growing alarm,” Preservation Trust President Michele Kramer said several months ago.
The Rev. Peter Prudden (1601-1656) was leader of the Hertfordshire Group that founded Milford in 1639 and first pastor of the First United Church of Christ.
While the current house at 67 Prospect Street is on the Prudden property, it was built more than 100 years after Peter Prudden died. According to the state’s Historic Resources Inventory, David L. Baldwin built the house in 1835. A genealogical website called geni.com says that David Lewis Baldwin, who was born in Milford in 1785 and died in 1877, was town clerk of Milford for 27 years, and clerk of probate for Milford for 12 years.
The house is also noted for its architecture. The Historic Resources Inventory describes it as a “two-story Greek Revival-style house.”
“The house is significant and well preserved and a good example of a Greek-Revival style house,” the inventory states. “The style was so widely employed in the United States between 1830 and 1860 that it came to be known as the National Style.”
City records indicate that Christina Smyth and Dan Boynton bought the house for $444,500 in 2015. Ownership is also listed as 67 Prospect Street LLC, with an address in New York City, on Milford records.
In recent months, the Preservation Trust, First United Church of Christ, members of the Botsford Family Association and the Freelove Baldwin Stow Chapter of the DAR unveiled a new roadside marker commemorating Rev. Peter Prudden at 55 Prospect St: Prudden’s original home lot, consisting of seven acres, was located at 67 and 55 Prospect Street.
The application to the Planning and Zoning Board was submitted by Rose-Tiso and Co. of Fairfield. Neither Patrick Rose nor Boynton, the listed owner, returned calls for comments.