Milford Historical Society, Milford

October, 2009 by Ray Bendici
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The Bryan-Downs House

The Damned Story: The three Colonial buildings that comprise the Wharf Lane complex of the Milford Historical Society -- the Eells-Stow House, the Bryan-Downs House and the Clark-Stockade House -- are a triple threat as paranormal activity has been reported at all three. Individually, none of the homes has a particularly dark past, or what might be considered an extraordinarily high level of reported unexplained phenomena, but when combined together, they make for an interesting trio. Believed to be the oldest house in Milford, the Eells-Stow House still stands on the spot where it was erected in 1670 by Samuel Eells. (The other two houses were built in other parts of Milford then moved to Wharf Lane more recently.) Nothing much happened over the next century until it was inhabited by Captain Stephen Stow, who died heroically in 1777.  The town doctor, he had volunteered to care for 200 soldiers who were infected by smallpox; ultimately, the disease claimed him as well as 46 of the unfortunate men. Capt. Stow's efforts were truly selfless -- four of his sons were already serving with the  Colonial Army in its bid for American independence, so no one would begrudge him for feeling as if he had already done his fair share. Some visitors to the Eells-Stow House have reported sensations of being watched; others have supposedly witnessed "inexplicable" events. EVPs have also been captured here. The Bryan-Downs House was orginally built in 1785 on the Post Road, being dismantled and moved to its current location in 1977. The Bryan family (which through marriage became the Downs family) lived there for at least three generations, expanding and remodeling the original home. After the Downs family died off, the house was a rental property for a number of years before coming into possession of the Milford Historical Society. There were no noteworthy traumas or tragedies in the house's existence that might explain the supposed paranormal activity taking place there. Unexplained voices have been heard in the house; people claim to have sensed invisible entities monitoring their actions, with some even suggesting they were touched by the entities. The Clark-Stockade House is recognized as the first house in Milford built outside the stockade fence that protected the colonists from attacks by Native Americans. The first version of the house was constructed in 1659 by Deacon George Clark; that structure was dismantled around 1780, with many of the pieces used in a new version -- the one that stands today. It was moved to its present location in 1974. Like the Bryan-Downs house, no significantly unfortunate events has been recorded in Clark-Stockade House's long history. Again, witnesses have claimed to observe unusual activities in the Stockade House, including hearing the crying of non-existent babies. With nearly one thousand years of history between the three houses, it's not a surprise that there could be claims of unusual happenings here -- even if two of the houses have been moved. I guess since spirits have no boundaries, traveling a few miles down the road is not much of a problem for them. And what else do they have to do anyway? Our Damned Experience: We stopped by briefly on a sunny day in late September 2009 and snapped a few pics. We didn't have any paranormal-type encounters, but then again, we weren't there long enough for anything to really occur. It also was the middle of the day, which never seems to be the right time to see anything spooky. Our friend Don Carter (paranormal investigator and author of Connecticut's Seaside Ghosts) and his team investigated the property in 2007 -- they recorded a few EVPs as well as had a few firsthand experiences that could be categorized as paranormal. You can check out a gallery of infrared images from their visit at his site. If You Go: The Milford Historical Society is located at 34 High Street, and is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. The main parking lot is quite small, but there is other places around to park your car.
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Submitted by LLOYD JACOBS (not verified) on
i would like to serve on the committee for the 375 yr celebration

Submitted by Green Skirt (not verified) on
I give tours there on the weekends, and I'm stationed in the stockade house. I can definitely attest to activity there, because on slow days I often sit there for three hours by myself. I've heard footsteps on the second floor, but that's not part of the tour because it's all storage. The stockade house was Milford's first hospital, then it was many things like apartments and tea rooms. Back on the hospital fact, I think it's safe to say many people died there. Fortunately there's never really been any malicious spirits, but I think that may have something to do with the fact that the house was moved from it's original location not too far downtown. I haven't heard any babies crying, but one time when I was fixing my mobcap in the north parlor mirror I saw movement behind me. It looked like a skirt flying around the corner, going towards a staircase on the right. Sometimes I take over the Eells-Stow house for about half an hour to give the man who normally works there a break to go and sit in the air conditioned shop, because he's quite a bit older than me. I normally sit outside on a folding chair because I definitely know the feeling of being watched when inside. Even from the lawn, I feel like someone is standing in the doorway watching me. And I heard a young girl's voice once say "Do you mind?", which I'm fairly certain was Esther. She was the only daughter out of the six children that lived there, and her room is right at the top of the stairs. It doesn't have a door, so I feel like she was referring to never getting any privacy.

Submitted by Steve (not verified) on
Hi, Could someone from the Milford Historical Society please let me know their e-mail address, I have been trying to find a contact regarding research, I am trying to research Job Prince the first silversmith of Milford, Connecticut. Would appreciate the help, thanks, I live in England so it's not like I can just pop in Regards Steve

Submitted by Janet (not verified) on
My ancestor was John Burwell one of the first settlers in Milford. If you go into the center is name is right there along other first settlers by the tower in front of the waterfall. I am also a descendent of this house that is said to be haunted.