Apartment plan threatens Milford’s first burial ground

A developer wants to build apartments on property that historians say is the burying ground for Milford’s founders, and several local groups are rallying to fight the plan.

The property at 67 Prospect Street, part of the home lot of Milford founder Peter Prudden, was Milford’s first cemetery, and founders of Milford are buried there, local historians told the Board of Aldermen at a meeting in Milford last week.

“The site — I would argue that it is the most historic site in Milford, sacred ground perhaps,” said Michele Kramer, president of the Milford Preservation Trust.

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.

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 the site. The application notes that the single-family home on the site will be demolished, and trees taken down.

“We have to stop this,” Kramer told the aldermen.

She said every early map of Milford indicates the Prospect Street property as the original Milford burying ground.

The state archeologist has offered to write a letter in opposition to the apartment plan, Kramer said. She also told the aldermen that a new I-95 sign notes that MIlford is an historic town, and she wondered how “paving over Milford’s founders squares with that.”

Former City Historian Richard Platt echoed her call for action, suggesting an ordinance be created to protect Milford’s burying grounds

Platt said the burial plots on the property were not marked with headstones because the early settlers considered that vanity. “If there were markers they were wooden and they are long gone,” he said.

But when people called Platt over the years asking for information about their ancestors and their final resting place, he has been able to tell them approximately where their ancestor was buried in the Prudden garden.

“I could point and say, ‘somewhere over there,” Platt said.
While the current house at 67 Prospect Street is on the Peter Prudden property, it was built more than 100 years after Prudden died. According to the state’s Historic Resources Inventory, on which the house is listed, 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.