New downtown landscape unfolds

Change is difficult sometimes, especially when considering the nature of an historic city building. However, the transformation so far at the old Harrison Hardware building downtown proves that oftentimes change is for the best.

In recent weeks, the new owners of the old hardware store building have pushed construction efforts, and the results, even at this early stage, suggest the building will take on a new life, totally fitting in with the look downtown and improving the overall atmosphere of this central part of Milford.

The building at 36-38 Broad Street is being turned into a Colony Grill restaurant. The owners are four members of the Trumbull Little League team that won the Little League World Series in 1989: Paul Coniglio, Cody Lee, Ken Martin, and Chris Drury, who later found additional fame as a hockey player for the Olympics, and in the National Hockey League.

When the owners decided that restoring the original front of the building was beyond reason and opted to demolish it and build anew, some people wondered if they liked losing that historic part of the city. Harrison’s Hardware, with its front glass windows and classic sign, had long been a part of the downtown landscape.

City officials who understood the condition of the structure, however, stood behind the owners and their decision to rebuild.

The building had been damaged by a January 2006 fire, and the hardware store never reopened and its interior suffered structurally.

The newly built front section will be the dining area of the pizza restaurant when the new business opens. The center section of the building will be restored, and there will be landscaping and an outdoor patio in the back. Windows will be added to the right side of the building to add light and character, according to previously discussed plans.

Construction so far hints at the quality and character this renovated building will bring to Broad Street.

The front of the building extends to the sidewalk, creating a welcoming and homey feeling on that stretch of downtown. The craftsmanship of the roof work completed suggests that when the building is done it will boast a top-notch New England-type look, similar to Peter Spalthoff’s building next door.

The old hardware store certainly had character, and for people who have lived in Milford a long time it had become part of the downtown they came to consider the heart of their hometown. The building was a downtown icon in a way. It will be missed.

Wood and glass, however, don’t last forever, and it was time for the outer shell of the old hardware store to be replaced with a new facade and a clean look that will boost the overall appearance of Broad Street.

And while the old, classic sign, the outside mural and other aspects of the building are gone, the owners have promised to work to preserve some of these historic Milford aspects inside the Colony Grill restaurant when it is complete. Residents therefore will have the best of both worlds, the past and the present in one solid, attractive building that will become part of the new downtown landscape.