Preservationists to propose new ordinance to protect city's historic homes

Milford's historic homes are treasured by many residents, especially those with an eye for history and historic preservation. The Milford Preservation Trust, hoping to protect these landmarks and maintain Milford's architectural heritage and historical character, is looking at a new ordinance and possibly a new historic preservation fund to help meet that goal.

The Elijah Bryan House that was located on Gulf Street since 1790 was recently demolished. The house was not in a historic district, or in the National Register, according to Richard Platt, former city historian and member of the Milford Preservation Trust.

The Trust has been drafting an ordinance, which is based on the Connecticut Trust's model ordinance, and which would add protection for structures like the Elijah Bryan house that lie outside historic districts.

The Trust hopes to present the ordinance to the Board of Alderman next month after working for about two months drafting the language. Only two towns in the state — Hartford and New Britain —  have adopted this kind of ordinance, according to Milford Preservation Trust President Michele Kramer.

“In addition, Dick Platt has added several amendments to the Demolition Delay Ordinance,” Kramer said. “We hope to present both at the December meeting, effectively capping off the city’s 375th anniversary [celebration]. Had such an ordinance been in place, we might have been able to save the Elijah Bryan house.”

The Elijah Bryan house was one of six houses of its style that are distinctive to Milford.

“There were six, now five, Dutch half-gambrel saltboxes in Milford,” Platt said. “This style, while not unique, is nevertheless distinctive to Milford. Apparently some carpenters from the New York area came up this way and exchanged ideas with the local English carpenters.”

The most outstanding example is the Sanford-Bristol House on North Street, which preservationists were able to save from the wrecking ball earlier this year.

“A smaller house, also in the historic district but without the curved roof, is the Durand House, next to the First Baptist Church,” Platt said. “The third is the Jonas Clark House, tucked away on Buick Avenue, a little street just off the intersection of Cherry Street, Gulf Street and Governors Avenue. Most people don't know it's there.”

Then, on Gulf Street, is house number 234, the Anthony Stow House.

“This is a bit different in that it has a large ‘witches hat’ dormer on the front,” Platt said.

Finally, at 330 Gulf Street is the Coggeshall/Elizabeth Sanford Pond House.

“All of these appear to be safe for now, except the Anthony Stow House, which has been under foreclosure and has had a ‘for sale’ sign in front of it for several months,” Platt said. “We are keeping a watchful and wary eye on it.”

Like Platt, Kramer has a passion for Milford's colonial heritage. She decided to become involved in the Trust when she learned about condominiums that were being proposed on Prospect Street surrounding a historic home. She felt this was not appropriate for the neighborhood.

“We have discussed the possibility of creating a revolving fund, which several towns have done; the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation has established such a fund,” said Kramer.

The Milford Preservation Trust wants the city's historic sites to be preserved and remembered.

“Losing these old structures is going to change the character of the town. We're not against progress; we're concerned about encroachment,” Kramer said.