Oliver St. John built the three-
Weaver and Watkins built the "block" at 371-
Edwin Hubbell's son, Frank, was a dynamic force in the development of
Milford during this second period of significance. He was a merchant and promoter,
beginning as a telegrapher for the railroad in his early teens, and later running
grocery and dry goods stores on Main Street. He brought electricity to Milford in
1892, installing a generator in the old Peters Mill on the Huron River and an auxiliary
generator in the Pettibone Mill on the Upper Mill Pond in North Milford. In 1911
he built the Hubbell Dam on the Huron River southwest of Milford and created the
Hubbell Pond to furnish power to the fledgling electric operation. This water-
In the last quarter of the 19th Century farm implements were manufactured
by the Wells Brothers at their foundry by the Main Street bridge on the Huron River
and were shipped all over the country via the railroad. Phillip F. Wells built his
This same era saw the invention and patenting of numerous devices, "made in Milford,"
from agricultural implements to pillow-
wood and coal stoves. Several hardware stores on N. Main St. began selling these new
stoves. Telegraph lines connected private homes and businesses in 1881. Telephones arrived in 1883. The first street lights were put up in 1875, and converted to gas in
1881. Electricity for street lighting, and also for lighting in homes and businesses, was available in 1892. The water works was built in 1895. The new village government (established in 1869) busied itself with improving the streets and with building sidewalks, first of wood, and then later, in 1884, of brick. Concrete and stone sidewalks came in the early twentieth century. Milford residents could now shop in Detroit and Pontiac. All these aspects of growth and prosperity were spurred by the coming of the railroad.
All of this development combined to increase the wealth of the residents of the village as well as to provide them with leisure time to pursue all sorts of activities.
Milford was becoming a more comfortable, convenient, and attractive place, and life
was in many ways easier for many people. The residents began to fill their non-
working hours with a variety of entertainments. The railroad that brought prosperity to the village also offered new forms of entertainment. Excursions were
organized to many different places, from near-
Philadelphia for the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 and Chicago for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. Groups of local residents visited friends in
neighboring villages on the railroad line for parties. Milford people journeyed
east and west, for sight-
The coming of the railroad made possible the visits of all sorts of entertainers and entertainments. Tenny & Greig's Hall, the third floor of a store built on the
flatiron in the 1860's, first furnished a venue for these activities. It was succeeded in
1872 by St. John's Hall, the third floor of the then-
A remarkable variety of entertainments were held in these halls, including professional dramatic companies, local dramas, musical entertainments, both professional and amateur, illusionists, humorists, necromancers, elocutionists, spiritualists, phrenologists, mesmerists, escape artists, ventriloquists, poets and
lecturers on numerous subjects. The halls were also used for balls, dancing classes
and even roller-
The most extensive chronicling of Milford's history began in 1871 with the founding of The Milford Times, a weekly newspaper which has continued to record the happenings in Milford until the present day and is the oldest weekly newspaper still publishing in Oakland County, Michigan. The paper was started by Isaac P. Jackson, and continued by his wife Ann, his son Bert, and finally his daughter,
Carrie Jackson Rowe, who took over in 1892 and continued to act as publisher until 1935. As editor and publisher of The Milford Times from 1892 to 1935 she chronicled
the events that defined the lives of the people of Milford. She was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame in 1990. The buildings in which The Milford Times was published from 1871 into the 20th Century have unfortunately all been razed, but the newspaper still maintains an office in the old Weaver & Watkins building at 405 N. Main St. Carrie Jackson Rowe, her husband and eight children lived in the house at 522 E. Commerce for a number of years.
It is interesting to note that the coming of the railroad and the founding of The Milford Times, the two things that opened Milford up to the world, both occurred in 1871.
The homes of the physicians and dentists who served Milford from 1871 to World War I are part of the proposed historic district: Dr. Black's 1896 pattern house
at 402 Union St..; Dr Warren's Queen Anne house at 233 E. Liberty St.; Dr. Baughn's Greek Revival house at 405 E. Commerce St.; and Dr. Weisbrod's Greek Revival house at 124 E. Commerce.
As in all early settlements, religion held an important position and churches were established almost immediately. The first recorded religious organization in Milford, a Methodist class, was formed in 1836. In the same year a second class of Methodists was formed under the name of the English Class. These religious groups first met in homes or schools in the Township. Between 1840 and 1844 the classes merged to form the Methodist Episcopal Church. The members built, as their first house of worship, a small frame building located on the east side of Union Street north of Canal Street. In 1875 a new and larger brick church was built just south of the frame church. In 1967 the congregation built a new church on Atlantic Street and the 1875 brick church is now the Masonic Temple (212 Union).
The Presbyterian Church of Milford was formed in 1838 and invited the members of the Congregational Class to join them as they met in the little red schoolhouse on the south side of West Washington Street facing Clinton Street.
A frame church building was constructed in 1846 on the north side of West Huron Street facing the Public Square (224 West Huron). In 1899 a new brick church was built on the southeast corner of North Main and East Liberty. The brick church is still in use by the congregation (238 N. Main).
The Baptist Church organized in 1838 and built their first house of worship, a frame Greek Revival building, in 1853, on the west side of North Main St., just north of where the railroad viaduct crosses Main Street. This building was moved in 1870 to the northwest corner of Union and Detroit Streets to make way for the coming of the
railroad. It has since been torn down and replaced with a new building, but the 1893 parsonage still stands at 615 Union St.
Sometime in the mid-
The coming of the railroad in 1871 made a tremendous impact on the growth of Milford, as well as on the quality of life its inhabitants experienced. The results of this growth and of this quality of life are still visible in the remaining houses, commercial buildings and industrial sites and in the original railroad, with its viaducts and stone arch bridge. It therefore meets Criterion A, as a place that has contributed to the broad patterns of history, and Criterion C, as architecturally representative of a nineteenth and early twentieth century rural mill settlement, for placement on the National Register.
The Twentieth Century and the Coming of the Automobile
Arguably, the greatest event of the early twentieth century, in regard to the development of Milford Village, was the advent of the automobile. The village benefited from new businesses related to the production and maintenance of this new form of transportation, and new houses were required for the workers in, and owners of, these businesses. In addition, people were now able to travel at their own chosen times and to places not directly serviced by public transportation such as the railroad and, earlier, the stagecoach.
F.W. Bacon, owner of the Peters Mill, bought the first automobile in town in October,
1900. He traveled all the way to Ohio to pick it up and apparently drove it home.
By 1910 the Milford rural mail carriers had autos. On July 9, 1910, H.M. Coulter
broke all Milford records by driving home from Royal Oak in only one hour and thirty-
As a result of the advent of the automobile, a number of new automobile-
In 1924, Mr. V.M. Schlieder decided to move his Schlieder Manufacturing Company,
which manufactured valves for the Chevrolet Motor Company, from Detroit to Milford,
and announced the need for twenty-
In addition to the smaller auto-
Another event of great magnitude for Milford Village was the building,
in 1938, of one of Henry Ford I's "little factories" on the west side of the Upper
Mill Pond, the site of the former Auto Dash Factory. From the 1920's to the 1940's
Henry Ford I built or restored 21 "mills" in southeast Michigan to manufacture auto
parts. He selected sites where early mill ponds and their resulting water-
The other surviving industrial plant in the proposed historic district is the Art Deco building at 140 W. Summit St. which was owned in 1935 by the Handyside Construction Company, which was involved with paving throughout the state. They were succeeded in 1940 by the Precise Aircraft and Precise Metal Processing Company. The building is now used by the Gazebo Company. During World War II the Ford factory and the factory at 140 West Summit St. contributed to the manufacture of war material.
During this period of growth and development sixteen commercial buildings
In 1953 St. George's Episcopal Church was built at 801 E. Commerce St, the first church constructed in Milford after World War II and the first building in Milford
for the Episcopal congregation. Groups of Episcopalians held services, probably Informally, in Milford in the last quarter of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. These services were held in a number of places, including the Opera House and the G.A.R. Hall. However, it was not until 1946 that a mission was established and began to hold regular meetings in the old Opera House (339 N. Main). The 1953 church building contains the altar constructed for the Opera House and a faceted glass window designed and executed by James Hopfensperger of Midland, Michigan (801 E. Commerce).
This period from World War I to 1950 was a time of rich development for Milford, due mainly to the coming of the automobile. The evidence of this development is still very much visible in the surviving commercial, residential and industrial buildings constructed during this period.
Fortunately, Milford has avoided the atrocities of "urban renewal" which
devastated many towns in the mid-
Milford offers a glimpse of small-
The Historic Significance of the Milford Historic District (Continued)