Milford burial ground threatened by muti-family housing proposal
A noted local historian pleaded with the Board of Aldermen Thursday to create an ordinance or take some other measure to protect Milford’s sacred burial grounds.
Richard Platt, former longtime city historian and high-profile member of Milford Preservation Trust, made the request during the public comment portion of the meeting, as a proposed development — if approved — would put residential units over the “garden” of the Rev. Peter Prudden, which Platt said was the burying ground for most of the city’s first settlers.
He said it’s sacred ground — and burial grounds are protected — but there are no stone markers to show it because that’s not how they did it in those days.
Michele Kramer, president of Milford Preservation Trust, also implored the board to intervene in some way.
The board does not respond to issues made in the public comment portion of the meeting.
At issue is the property and house at 67 Prospect St., a “contributing property” to the River Park National Historic District.
Platt said the property where development is being proposed is part of the original home lot of Prudden, a settler of Milford and the first pastor of the First Church.
While burial grounds are protected — and there are historical records to indicate early settlers are buried there, it gets tricky because in those early days they were buried in unmarked graves. Some may have had temporary wooden markers, but not stone memorials because that was considered vain, he said.
Platt asked what they are to say if someone asks where their ancestors are buried.
“Somewhere over there?” Platt said.
Kramer said that a sign on Interstate 95 touts Milford as historic, but when she goes to visit other historic towns she looks for true history of the people, places and life way back when, and not to see “the latest iteration” of a condo or apartment complex.
Historians said the developer promised when he bought the property he would do nothing to change it and would rent it as offices and apartments.
Now, historians say, he has proposed plans to demolish the house and construct a 44-unit apartment complex.
The developer could not be reached late Thursday and nothing could be confirmed with the Planning and Zoning Department.
Platt said the property and others similar to it in Milford that will likely never be redeveloped — including Lauralton Hall High School — never should have been included in the Milford Center Design District when it was created and although historians spoke to the Planning and Zoning Board about it, they did otherwise.
He said it’s time for the PZB to respect historic properties.
Kramer said she’s spoken to the state’s archeologist and he is willing to visit the house.
Kramer said there will be a “hue and cry” if the plans proceed.
In a Register letter to the editor, Ruth P. Faulkner, now of Maine, formerly of Milford, objected to the idea of building where eight of her ancestors are buried.
“The aesthetics are bad enough — an apartment house among all the historic buildings?? — but what really distresses me is the thought of a large structure disturbing the resting place and bones of my over eight ancestors who are among the founders. I feel I owe it to my mother and the intervening generations to protest this.”
She concludes: “Please, Milford, do not let this happen!”