Letter: Historic Baldwin house should be protected

To the Editor:

I want to add my voice to the others from Milford who are concerned about the house built in 1835 by David L. Baldwin, a prominent citizen of Milford. It lies in the National River Park Historic District and this alone should protect it.

This property has distinct value for another reason; it was once owned by Rev. Peter Prudden, a man who bravely left his comfortable home in England in 1635 to lead pioneers through wilderness to Wepawoge, the place we now call Milford.  Known as a peacemaker, the Reverend Prudden negotiated the purchase of the land from its Native American proprietors, making Milford one of the only colonial plantations not granted by European rulers. As a founder, a magistrate and pastor of the First Church of Milford, it might have been that he would benefit by these honored positions but instead he chose equal treatment with his fellow settlers. Each received acreage proportionate to his investment. From their shares, Reverend Prudden and his wife allowed usage of a place in his garden as a site of first interment since a cemetery location had yet to be determined. It was here that Milford’s earliest citizens were laid to rest and these included the Prudden’s infant son and his brother, James. The Reverend later joined them in the hallowed ground of his garden.

I grew up in Milford. I love Milford. My ancestors lived in Milford and I had hoped to return to research those relatives and perhaps gain answers to questions that I have about them. If Milford will not maintain its Historic Preservation Ordinance and and its Historic Preservation Commission cannot  protect the heritage of its founders and first citizens, what will there be worth returning for? What answers will I or anyone else find when the Baldwin-Prudden House has been indifferently leveled and replaced by 44 apartments and 1,269-square-feet of office space? Can they leave an equivalent history when their use ends?

No doubt pockets are filled from culturally indifferent developments. Milford citizen’s recall the similar abuse of their history as other noble homes fell to greed and profit. Consider the other landmarks lost, such as the once beautiful Clapp House, a mansion that stood guard over the harbor for 170 years before heartless acquisition and indifferent demolition left condos on view in its place. The historic character of Milford suffered when that dignified dwelling was destroyed.

I do not know how current residents of Milford will deal with increased traffic and parking needs created by such coldly commercial trampling of the beautiful Baldwin-Prudden site, but I clearly see that another of the qualities that make Milford attractive and unique — its people and their history — will be lost forever.

Cecelia Furman

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