In 1793, a deadly wave of yellow fever sept through Philadelphia, the nation’s capital at the time. Those who could afford to leave, did. One who left was President George Washington, who moved to Germantown, about ten miles away. Another who could afford to leave was John Biddis. Biddis began his business career as a tavern owner who invented a new white lead paint in 1783. He opened a paint factory and soon was making the city’s first wallpaper. Another invention tanned hides with gums from the barks of various trees. Biddis was 44 years of age when he removed his family from Philadelphia to the healthy air along the Delaware River in what was then known as Wells Ferry.
Thomas Quick had settled the area in 1733 and various ferries , most enduringly, one by Andrew Dingman. Biddis bought a huge swath of land, large enough to lay out 530 lots in 1796 and he had enough land left over that to sell his lots he offered buyers two acres of land outside of town for every acre purchased in town. Biddis was planning to begin paper construction in a mill to be built on the Sawkill Creek, the first in the United States to use wood pulp rather than rags (another invention of his) and so named his new village “Milford.” Biddis soon had a second mill operating, this one reusing wool. In 1806 he was charged by the governor with building the first bridge across the Delaware River and was making plans to sell his various patent rights by lottery when he died. Many of his children took up residence here rather than Philadelphia and many of the street names you will be walking on carry their names - Ann, Catharine, and so on.
Pike County was birthed from Wayne County in 1814, named, like several around the United States, for explorer Zebulon Pike. Milford, the county seat, was incorporated in 1874. The first family of Milford was the Pinchots, who arrivedin Milford in 1816 and opened a mercantile operation, The French Store. In 1850 by the time 19-year old James was ready to enter the family business there was no room so he trundled off to New York City and made a fortune in the wallpaper trade. He retired after 25 years and by 1886 he had built the French-influenced Grey Towers in his hometown.
At the time his son Gifford was 21 and instilled with a love of nature. When his friend Theodore Roosevelt became President in 1900, Gifford Pinchot was named the first Chief Forester of the United States Forest Service. During his tenure, national forests tripled in size to 193 million acres. Later, Pinchot became one of Pennsylvania’s most popular and progressive governors, wiping out a $30 million budget deficit and paving rural roads to “get the farmer out of the mud.” The Pinchots donated Grey Towers to the American public in 1963.
Our walking tour will begin at an historic building constructed by the Pinchots in 1907 that was intended for use by commercial shops on the first floor and for classrooms for Yale University’s Forest School on the upper floors...
200 Broad Street at northeast corner of East Harford Street
Calvert Vaux, designer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, used native bluestone to craft the old Milford Post Office on the corner in 1863. Studio space upstairs was utilized by such artists as John Ferguson Weir and others of the Hudson River School. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Second Empire building is topped by a steep hipped roof with segmented dormers and classical details. Side mansard roofs flank the center with an eyebrow dormer looking out over Broad Street. The monumental building that dominates the block lays claim to the birthplace of the American Conservation movement. It was built for James Pinchot in 1904, father of Gifford. Gifford Pinchot studied in France and became the first American trained in forestry. He was named Chief Forester of the U. S. Division of Forestry and served under his good friend Theodore Roosevelt from 1898 to 1910. Together the two placed over 200 million acres of national forest came under scientific land management. At one time this building was the summer school for Yale University School of Forestry. The first five chiefs of the United States Forest Service were all either instructors or students at Forest Hall. The massive masonry building was designed by Hunt & Hunt, successor to famed New York architect Richard Morris Hunt and leading proponent of French Chateauesque architecture in America. Four hipped dormers with French windows face the front and back of the building. On the corner of the facade is a two-story, round oriel window complete with pendant and finial.
WALK EAST ON BROAD STREET.
219 Broad Street
This Tudor Revival cottage was built in 1903 in the original Pinchot family garden by James Pinchot for his son Amos. The playful exterior is splashed with a variety of textures: steep roof with fish-scale slate shingles, blue stone used with the chimney and corner quoins, rubble stone with half-timbering and stucco, and round glass decorations that may be the bottom of glass bottles.
First Presbyterian Church
300 Broad Street
The church began as a Sunday School in “The Old Jail House” in 1824. Architect George Barton produced this Romanesque-influenced church of locally produced bricks fifty years later. The triple windows are banded with sandstone to give the facade a polychrome surface decoration. The bell tower and clock were donated in 1887 by William Bross, Lt. Governor of Illinois and president of the Tribune company. Bross, the first signer of the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, grew up in Milford and attended the Milford Academy.
TURN LEFT ON WEST ANN STREET.
108 West Ann Street
This traditional British folk house dates to before the American Revolution. The stylish Georgian door surround was added at a later date to give the house a little pizzazz.
110 West Ann Street
Another vernacular home from around 1800, the gable-fronted house has been updated with a splashy front porch, spandrels and one-story bay window.
206 West Anne Street
Tucked behind a white picket fence, this Queen Anne house from 1901 features a steep hipped roof and a battery of picturesque oriel windows.
208 West Anne Street
This picturesque Queen Anne style house dates to the 1870s. Signature touches include fine spindle work on the porch banisters and fish-scale shingling. Through the adjoining alley is a carriage house that once served as a viewing parlor for an undertaker. Lenni Lenape Chief Indian Cloud was laid out to rest here.
209 West Ann Street
This brick Italianate residence from 1875 may take its veranda, bay window and tower design from Calvert Vaux’s influential architecture pattern book, Villas and Cottages. The decorative details such as double-hooded window crown groupings with keystones, bracketed cornices, porch details and cupola are all hallmarks of this popular style.
WALK PAST THE PARK ALONG THE ALLEYWAY IN FRONT OF THE ARMSTRONG HOUSE TO WEST CATHARINE STRET AND TURN RIGHT.
205 West Catharine Street
This Second Empire house with single bracketed mansard roof, wide cut-out spandrels on the front veranda, round window and door surrounds, dates to the early 1870s.
321 5th Street at southeast corner of Catharine Street
This attractive cobblestonechurch is the second for the congregation, replacing an 1877 building that burned to the ground on September 28, 1913. The first services of the Church of the Good Shepherd took place under the guidance of Stephen Tyng, who conducted Episcopalian services in the courthouse in 1849.
Milford Borough Building
109 West Catharine Street
E.S. Wolfe designed this building for the town government offices to greet a new century in a new building. He used indigenous bluestone, often seen around town not only in buildings but sidewalks as well. When built in 1899 the tower was capped with an open metal form to support the fire alarm bell.
320-322 Broad Street, northeast corner of Church Street
Over the years this building has housed a bank and a succession of retail stores. The third floor was known as Brown’s Hall and hosted civic events. The Italianate style reveals itself here in the recessed window openings, stone quoining at the corners and the decorative cornice. Look up and notice the small pediment brackets which start above the roof-line and extend through the cornice and wide frieze band.
TURN LEFT ON BROAD STREET.
401 Broad Street, southwest corner of Catharine Street
Louis Fauchère, former chef at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City, opened this hotel in 1852 as a summer business. Fauchère would work during the winter months at restaurants in New York City. The present Italianate style building opened in 1880, with twenty–four sleeping rooms and other apartments, including a beautiful dining room at the rear of the house enclosed with glass. Having worked at America’s most famous restaurant, and staying friends with his fellow French-speaking Swiss, the Delmonico brothers, helped lure prominent politicians, artists and others to the hotel. In the guest register have been Andrew Carnegie, Robert Frost, Mae West, Babe Ruth, Henry Ford and three United States presidents.
Tom Quick Inn
441 Broad Street
The Tom Quick Inn was originally two different hotels, the Terwilliger House and the Centre Square House. Amanda Beck Terwilliger built her three-story hostelry in 1880 and George A. Frieh opened The Centre Square House two years later. In 1950 Robert Phillips joined the nearly identical Second Empire hotels to form the Tom Quick Inn.
Pike County Court House
412-414 Broad Street
Architect George Barton blended the popular Second Empire style with classical elements in 1874 to provide Pike County with a suitably impressive courthouse. The mansard roof with cornice brackets and round, arched windows are standard-bearers for this picturesque style. The roof-line is rich with Palladian dormers, a classical pediment and domed cupola with paired pilasters.
“Old Jail House”
500 Broad Street
This vernacular structure is side-gabled with masonry of rubble stone. It is the second oldest court house in Pennsylvania, constructed in 1814, and served in that capacity until the completion of the new court house across the street. For decades it did time as the county jail - look for five windows that were filled in with stone to keep prisoners from escaping. Atop the hexagonal cupola is a weather vane with the state fish, a wiggling brook trout.
501 Broad Street
This was a simple three-room house when it was built in 1835 before it received a complete transformation in the popular Greek Revival style of the day. Side wings were added and a dominant Doric portico applied to the front center.
TURN RIGHT ON EAST HIGH STREET.
The Judge School
111 East High Street
In the 1920s this was a fashionable hotel called The Windsor before Margaret Duer Judge converted into a school for exceptional children. The imposing eclectic designed house sits back in its lot and has been called the most important wood-frame structure in the Milford Historical District. Starting at the roof the original finial sits atop the bell cupola and shares the skyline with chimney pots, tile cresting, patterned fish-scale slate shingles, gables, dormers, and stick spandrels with pendants. Circular porches wrap around the facade. If that wasn’t enough going on architecturally, partial wagon wheels decorate the front and side entrance stairs.
TURN RIGHT ON FOURTH STREET. TURN LEFT ON EAST CATHARINE STREET.
207 East Catharine Street
This gable-front-and-wing house folk Victorian dates to the 1880s. The cornice features brackets that were common at that time and the gracefully curving porch stands out.
TURN RIGHT ON THIRD STREET AND TURN LEFT ON EAST ANN STREET.
306 East Ann Street
Architect A.S. Brown crafted this Queen Anne house in 1898 as an early experiment in passive solar energy. Windows were placed to take advantage of the prevailing sun. White fir trees were strategically planted on the corners of the property to moderate the effects of temperature. The roof forms include gambrel, gable and hip. Subsequent owners have redesigned the plain, cedar shake wall pattern in the front with a dramatic hexagon and diamond design. Other changes include the eye-catching sunburst in the porch gable.
TURN AND WALK UP EAST ANN STREET, TOWARDS THE CENTER OF TOWN.
212 3rd Street at the northeast corner of East Ann Street
This 1898 Queen Anne house was restored to its century-old appearance after recent owners uncovered an old photograph of the house.
206 East Ann Street
The church began as a Sunday School in “The Old Jail House” in 1824. Architect George Barton produced this Romanesque-influenced church of locally produced bricks fifty years later. The triple windows are banded with sandstone to give the facade a polychrome surface decoration. The belltower and clock were donated in 1887 by William Bross, Lt. Governor of Illinois and president of the Tribune company. Bross, the first signer of the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, grew up in Milford and attended the Milford Academy.
200 East Ann Street
The unusual size and number of the windows betray this house’s beginnings in the 1850s as the Milford Academy; the windows provided light for teaching in the classroom and studying in the dormitory above. At the turn of the 19th century new owners lifted and turned the entire building so the gable-end faced East Ann Street and added a front porch to make the structure look more like a house. It was common practice to move buildings as a way to preserve resources and, more importantly, money.
TURN LEFT ON FOURTH STREET.
Milford Masonic Lodge `
204 Fourth Street
This three-story, red-brick building was built in 1875 as a general store. For a time it housed a pill manufacturer. In 1901 it became home of the Milford Masonic Lodge. With the exception of the modern front door, the Italianate facade is intact with a heavy cornice over the first floor and a large glass store front.
TURN LEFT ON EAST HARFORD STREET.
205 East Harford Street
This Second Empire house retains much of its detail from the early 1870s - straight mansard roof with fish-scale shingles, molded cornices, decorative brackets supporting a wide overhanging eave. Simple round window surrounds with original fitting windows and shutters plus chamfered porch supports complete the effect.
TURN AND RETRACE YOUR STEPS ON EAST HARFORD STREET, WALKING TOWARDS THE CENTER OF TOWN.
201 East Harford Street
This is the oldest house in Milford. Although it has undergone alterations it is essentially the same building that stood in the 1700s. The house is oriented with its gable-end to the street and the main entrance set off to the south, perhaps to have once faced Sawkill Creek. Nineteenth-century changes can be found in the tiny Gothic window in the gable and scalloped Doric capitals on the front porch posts. The rear barn dating to 1800 has one remaining “Indian shutter” that could be closed against attack. The house was built by Robert Harford and sufficiently grand to host the Marquis de Lafayette on a tour of America in 1824.
The Egg House
110 East Harford Street
This picturesque Italianate villa, built in 1862 by Cyril C.D. Pinchot, grandfather of Governor Gifford Pinchot, also blends Greek Revival details such as the dentils between elaborate double brackets and classical pediments as window caps. Egg-shape decorations grace the pillars of the veranda. The roofline is distinguished by a cupola decorated with drop pendants and a finial. All is beautifully preserved behind a cast-iron harp fence.
106 East Harford Street
This house from the 1870s show elements of the Stick Style with its simple porch spandrels, a cut-away bay window with curved flat braces, and truss work in the gables.
101 East Harford Street
Samuel Dimmick built this inn in 1856 to replace an earlier structure that had stood since 1828 before falling in a fire. Dimmick was County Treasurer, Commissioner and Justice of the Peace and the day to day operations were handled by his daughter Frances, familiarly known as “Miss Fan.” Miss Fan played the fiddle, fished, rode horses and favored wearing men’s clothing. Under her guidance the Dimmick Inn became as much an area tourist attraction as the mountains and waterfalls. She may never have left Dimmick Inn - her ghost is said to haunt the building to this day.
Community House & Pike County Library
201 Broad Street at southeast corner of East Harford Street
Cyrille Pinchot built this early Greek Revival house in the 1820s. It demonstrates such classical elements as a dentiled cornice, pilasters, and door surrounds with rectangular transom and sidelights. The second story round-hooded window is topped with a keystone in the molding. The imposing front portico with two sets of Ionic columns was matched by a side portico during an early 1900s alteration. The building serves today as library and meeting center for Pike County.
YOU HAVE NOW RETURNED TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT.