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December 03, 2016
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Milford at the tipping point

A century after Judge Biddis laid out Milford, hometown philanthropist James Wallace Pinchot brought his architect friends to Milford and established the character of Broad Street. Starting at the intersection of Harford Street, one finds the original post office designed by Calvert Vaux, Frederic Law Olmsted’s partner in designing New York City’s Central Park; Forest Hall designed by Richard Morris Hunt’s sons, who also designed the east facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Pinchot Homestead across the street, now the Milford Community House, remodeled by Hines and Lafarge, the designers of St. John the Divine in New York City; Normandy Cottage designed by McKim, Meade and White, the designers of Columbia University and the old Penn Station. Further down is the Presbyterian Church and the Pike County courthouse in Center Square, both designed by John Barrett, one of the architects of the industrial brick buildings in Patterson, NJ. These giants of 20th century architecture are represented in no other small town in America, let alone on its main street.

Being familiar with Grey Towers and its international significance to the forest conservation community, I know how special Milford is and how many visitors marvel at its charm and small town character. To them, Milford is more than just any town; it is really a near-sacred place in America. Yet most probably take for granted that it will always be this way.

Our county commissioners are only doing what they feel is in the best of interest of the citizens of the county. Costs do matter, and they are right to take them into consideration. I support that, but I believe we can design and build a much improved county court system without jeopardizing Milford. If we do not speak up and let them know our wishes, we will most likely lose something that is a national treasure, which would be a cost too high to pay.

[Edgar Brannon is the former director of Grey Towers National Historic Site and currently a senior fellow at the Pinchot Institute for Conservation. He lives in Milford.]