Letter: Plan to demolish Baldwin house is wrong

To the Editor:

We all know that Milford is a beautiful place to live and we have a singular downtown area that retains much of the character and attraction of its history.

Maintaining this is important and something that we need to protect today for those coming tomorrow.

This house [the Baldwin house at 67 Prospect Street] is a significant part of the appeal of Prospect Street. The city government had the wisdom to create the Historic Preservation Commission specifically to protect buildings outside of the established historic districts. The David Baldwin house is a perfect example of why this commission exists and what they need to do. As City Historian I have seen many applications for demolition but rarely have I seen one as egregious, selfish and wrong as this one.

The house claims a place in Milford's history because of its original owner David Baldwin. For 27 years Mr. Baldwin served as Town Clerk and was Clerk of Probate for 12 years. He was the son of Revolutionary War soldier Nathan Baldwin and descended from Joseph Baldwin who joined the church in Milford in 1644. His mother Avis Durand Baldwin was the daughter and granddaughter of Andrew then Samuel Durand. The Durands were well known furniture makers whose furniture is museum quality.

But the house itself is a special part of the River Park Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places. It is also recognized by the State of Connecticut on the Register of Historic Places. The house is a nice example of one type of Greek Revival house, characterized by near-cube form with a very low-pitched roof and porch with well-proportioned classical Ionic columns.

This type is perhaps less well known than the pedimented buildings (often modeled on ancient Greek temples, such as the demolished Second Congregational church in Milford) but it reflects another strain in Greek Revival design that was interested in simple silhouettes and clear geometric forms — in this case, a cube. This shape continued to be popular past the Greek Revival period into Italianate design. The two-story bay window on the side is perhaps a later addition, but one that does not detract from the overall character of the house. This is a very special house and there are other locations to build the proposed apartments.

Many, many people have very eloquently and intelligently spoken to save the house. This house has been on the National Register for 30 years and this has been recognized and accepted by its previous owners. The recent buyer of the property should have known this because it is a part of the well known public record. A desire to commercialize the property by demolishing the house is a gross insult to our community and our citizens, especially when there are other locations where such a development can be built without complaint. There is no justification or reason to demolish this house and I hope that the Historic Preservation Commission will speak for all of us.

Arthur Stowe

City Historian