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Historic Milford

Milford was an early “planned” community, laid out after the Revolutionary War by Judge John Biddis. Biddis was a riding circuit court judge and literally rode on a horse from town to town to hold court in northeast Pennsylvania. When he purchased the land between the Sawkill and Vandermark Creeks, he chose to model the street and alley pattern in the town’s design after Philadelphia, the nation’s first capital. It is no surprise, therefore, that Atlantic Magazine once called Milford “the prettiest county seat in America.”

Milford’s streets are named after Biddis’ children, and its alleys were named after fruit trees and berry bushes found in the area. The thought and care put into the community’s initial layout is still evident today, with public squares, wide, shade-lined streets, and attractive municipal improvements.

Great Examples

Several of the greatest American architects of the 19th century have examples of their work in Milford. Among them:

  • Grey Towers National Historic Landmark was designed by Richard Morris Hunt.
  • Calvert Vaux designed Milford’s old post office, which is now part of Forest Hall Gallery, at the corner of Broad and Harford Streets.
  • Hunt & Hunt, the sons of Richard Morris Hunt, designed the balance of what is now, in conjunction with the Vaux Building, known collectively as Forest Hall. Originally built to house the summer school for Yale University’s School of Forestry, today Forest Hall houses boutiques, antique shops and galleries.
  • Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. designed part of the Milford Cemetery; its similarity to other Olmsted-designed landscapes is evident.
  • The Community House, across the street from Forest Hall, was designed by Heins & Lafarge, best known for designing the original Romanesque-Byzantine east end and crossing of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York.
  • Private residences in the area include work by McKim, Mead & White, Chester Aldrich, Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Usonian homes, and many beautiful examples of 19th century vernacular architecture.

Enhancing Public Spaces

Milford’s tradition of exceptional architecture and design continues today, most recently reflected in a Peter Bohlin-designed office building, which opened in 2002. Since 1997, the Milford Enhancement Committee has led a wide ranging long-term project to improve public spaces in Milford, particularly along the main commercial streets, with bluestone sidewalks, granite curbing, new landscaping and pedestrian lights.