Milford Historic District
The Milford Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2007, The Gombach Group.
The Milford Historic District is located in the commercial heart of the Borough of Milford. This community is the county seat and largest municipality of Pike County and lies in the Pocono Mountains on the west shore of the Delaware River in northeastern Pennsylvania. The nominated area consists of 22 acres along a section of Broad Street (the main thoroughfare of the community) and portions of Harford, Ann, Catharine, and High Streets, all of which intersect with Broad Street, as well as a small section of Fourth Street which also intersects Harford Street. The majority of the buildings in the district are two to three stories in height and are of wood construction. Styles represented in the district include the, Greek Revival, Romanesque Revival, Chateauesque, French Norman Revival, Tudor Revival, Italianate, Neo-Classical Revival, Bungalow, and French Second Empire. No particular architectural style, date, or method of construction predominates in any single part of the district. The district's overall character is that of an architecturally-cohesive business district of a mid-to-late-nineteenth century resort community-county seat, containing a mixture of commercial architecture--including hotels--interspersed with residences and governmental and religious institutional buildings. The overall cohesion of the district is created by its dense development and by a general lack of significant concentrations of intrusions. A total of seventy-four resources are found within the district, including five buildings previously listed in the National Register: the [Second] Pike County Court House (412-414 Broad Street), Forester's Hall and the adjacent Milford Post Office (200-216 Broad Street), and the Hotel Fauchere and Annex (401 and 403 Broad Street). Of the remaining sixty-nine resources, sixty-five are buildings and four are objects. Fifty-five of these resources (86%) contribute to the character of the district and the remaining fourteen (14%) are non-contributing to the district's character. The district retains integrity, with noncontributing features dispersed widely throughout the nominated area.
The Milford Historic District consists of the traditional historic central business district of the community. Within the district, the original 1793 plan of the town platted a series of large blocks, each containing twelve lots and bisected at right angles by alleys. The intersection of Broad and High Streets was the intended center of town, for at that intersection were laid out public lots (which presently contain the [First] and [Second] Pike County Court Houses and open parks). Other streets bear the names of early settlers (Harford) and of the children of the town's founder (Ann and Catharine). The principal thoroughfares bear traditional names (Broad and High) intended to suggest their relative importance. The alleys are named for fruits native to the area. Broad Street extends along a southwest-to-northeast axis in the center of the district and has been the historic "hub" of the downtown since the community was established; Broad Street divides the town in half and streets east and west of Broad are named accordingly. Harford Street runs on a southeast-northwest axis and intersects Broad Street near the southwest terminus of the district; Harford Street enters the district from the west and leads toward the Delaware River. An important commercial thoroughfare, the integrity of most of West Harford Street has been seriously compromised by new construction and is therefore not included within the district. A one-half block section of Fourth Street extends northwest from Harford Street. Moving away from Harford to the northeast, Ann, Catharine, and High Streets intersect Broad Street. Alleys within the district include segments of Blackberry and Gooseberry Alleys, which run from southwest to northeast, and Pear, Apple, and Peach Alleys, which run from southeast to northwest. Broad Street has a right-of-way of eighty feet; the other streets have rights-of-way of sixty feet, and those of the alleys are fifteen feet. The topography of the district is essentially flat.
The Milford Historic District contains diverse commercial, residential, and institutional architecture. Commercial buildings are generally constructed flush with one another, with no side-lots, and are built flush with the sidewalk in front. The rear lot setbacks of the commercial buildings vary from property to property; some buildings occupy the entire lot from front to rear, while others do not occupy the rear portions of their respective lots, allowing for minor dependencies and for small areas of surface parking. Most commercial buildings are of brick, two and three stories in height, with roofs that are flat or slope gently from front to rear. Several commercial buildings are of native cobblestone which has been stuccoed and several are trimmed with native bluestone. Commercial architecture within the district is generally Italianate in style, with some original or early storefronts surviving. Storefronts are of a traditional design, with large display windows, some with transom sash, bulkheads, and recessed entries.
Residential buildings are scattered along Broad and East Harford Streets and sited with front setbacks and side lots with lawns and mature shade trees. Residential architecture is generally two stories in height and is executed both in wood and masonry, although wood predominates. Roofs on residential buildings include hipped and gabled roofs, some of which are pierced by dormers. Styles of residential architecture include the Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, Italian Villa, and Bungalow.
Institutional design within the district includes one church and three governmental buildings. The single church in the district (the 1874 Presbyterian Church; 300 Broad Street) is Romanesque Revival in design and is executed in brick, ornamented with religious art glass windows, a recently-restored corner clock tower, and a gable roof of slate. The [First] Pike County Court House/Pike County Jail (500-502 Broad Street) is a five-bay late Georgian vernacular building of sandstone construction, with a lateral orientation to the street and a gable roof capped with a centered cupola. The 1872-74 [Second] Pike County Court House (412-414 Broad Street) is an eclectic building with Romanesque Revival-style detailing and a Mansard roof. The Milford Municipal Building (109 West Catharine Street; 1899) is constructed of native bluestone and features a Romanesque Revival-derived tower at the left corner.
Architectural ornamentation throughout the district includes cornices and window heads of metal, stone, and wood, along with turned balustrades, bargeboard, and shingled pediments on several residential buildings and dependencies.
The streetscapes of the Milford Historic District are visually diverse. Several areas retain expanses of native bluestone sidewalks and one historic iron fence remains at the Pinchot-Sum House (110 East Harford Street). Several properties are highlighted by picket fences of wood. The fences are not counted in the resource count, since they are not substantial in scale. Nonetheless, they constitute important historic landscape features along the streetscape.
The district as a whole reflects a variety of the architectural styles popular through the two hundred-year period of significance. The earliest academically-styled buildings are of Greek Revival-style design, chronologically followed by resources executed in the Gothic Revival, Romanesque Revival, Queen Anne, Neo-Classical Revival, Colonial Revival, French Norman, and Tudor Revival styles, along with vernacular adaptations of some of the styles. Greek Revival-style design within the district features a formal massing, often manifest in a temple-form plan with a portico or integral porch supported by classically-derived columns. The Italianate style in Milford--commercial and residential alike--is characterized by buildings with tall, narrow fenestration and cornices of corbeled brick, wood, or pressed metal. The Queen Anne style in the Milford Historic District is confined generally to residential design, and exhibits an irregularity of plan and varied wall surface treatments. The local adaptation of the Italian Villa style incorporates typically Italianate detailing and a truncated hipped roof capped with a belvedere. The various styles are dispersed throughout the district without any concentration of one particular style in any single neighborhood or block.
A stylistic survival from eighteenth century design, the 1814 [First] Pike County Court House (500-502 Broad Street) is a vernacular adaptation of Georgian architecture, with a symmetrical 5-bay facade upon which is centered a classically-derived frontispiece entrance; a hexagonal weathervane-capped cupola is centered on the gabled roofline. Greek Revival-style design is typified by a formality of plan and includes three temple-form-buildings on East Harford Street (200 East Harford Street; 116 East Harford Street; and 108 East Harford Street), the ca. 1855 Pinchot Homestead/Milford Community House (201 Broad Street), the 1856 Dimmick House Hotel (101 East Harford Street), and the 1835 James S. Wallace House (501 Broad Street), the latter of which evolved from a modest cottage into a stately upright-and-wing residence fronting on Center Square at the heart of town. Representative examples of the Italianate style include the ca. 1888 Brown Building (314-322 Broad Street), the ca. 1880 Dr. H. E. Emerson Drug Store (312 Broad Street), and the 1875 Wallace Building/Masonic Hall (202 Fourth Street). Italian Villa-style architecture includes the previously-listed ca. 1867 Hotel Fauchere (401 Broad Street) and the ca. 1862 Pinchot-Sum House (110 East Harford Street). Gothic Revival-style design includes a vernacular wood frame home at 117 East Harford Street, with a gable-end orientation to the street and a pointed-arched window in the pediment, which is further articulated with a finial and pendant at its apex. The French Second Empire style, with its characteristic Mansard roof, is seen in Milford in two of the town's extant resort hotels--now interconnected: the 1880s Terwilliger House (409 Broad Street) and the 1880s Center Square House (411 Broad Street), which are now interconnected and have operated as the Tom Quick Inn since the 1950s. Queen Anne-style design includes the Dr. William Kenworthey House of ca. 1890 (410 Broad Street), which features a shingled corner tower capped with a conical roof. The Neo-Classical Revival style is represented in the Milford Historic District in the 1929 First National Bank Building (222 Broad Street). The sole example of French Norman Revival-style architecture is Forester's Hall (200-216 Broad Street). Previously listed in the National Register and therefore not counted in the resource count, Forester's Hall, with its close association to Gifford Pinchot and architects Hunt and Hunt, is a major component both in the streetscape and in the architectural heritage of the Milford Historic District. The district's single example of the Tudor Revival style, with its characteristic stucco and half-timbered exterior finish, is the 1903 Normandy Cottage (219 Board Street).
As noted above, only a small percentage of non-contributing resources are found within the district. For the most part, the non-contributing character of these properties is due to their post-1947 construction, outside the period of significance. In only a limited number of instances has insensitive alteration resulted in a "non-contributing" designation. The non-contributing buildings are dispersed widely throughout the district. Two corners of Broad Street (at Catharine and Ann Streets) have been impacted by non-contributing newer construction.
Alterations to the commercial buildings within the district have been confined generally to storefronts, including the removal of historic shopfronts and their replacement with contemporary fronts constructed of often-incompatible materials. Some residential and commercial buildings have been altered with the installation of replacement windows and the application of synthetic siding; when viewed within the context of the historic district-as a whole, the replacement of windows and/or the application of synthetic siding does not generally constitute a significant negative impact on individual resources.
As in nearly any downtown area, demolition has occurred within the district. However, the effect of demolition has been somewhat mitigated by sensitive rehabilitation projects which have been completed within the district. Among these are the mid-1990s rehabilitation of the 1888 Brown Building (314-322 Broad Street)--including the restoration of the historic wood windows, the renovation of the storefront, and upper-story conversion to create several apartments--the 1997 office conversion of the ca. 1860 temple-form house at 116 East Harford Street--including the repair of the exterior woodwork and a complete upgrade of the interior spaces, and the ambitious 1990s renovation of the elaborate wood tower of the 1874 Presbyterian Church (300 Broad Street). New construction is minimal in the district and is dispersed throughout; two new buildings are found at the northwest corner of Broad and Catharine Streets; the largest new building is the office building at 402 Broad Street. The majority of the buildings in the district are in good condition; some are in an excellent state of repair and only a small number are in poor condition.
The four objects within the district are located in the Center Park quadrants on Broad Street. They include small-scale military memorial items and a stone fountain erected in 1911 by the Village Improvement Association. Two of the objects are contributing features while two are non-contributing due to their age.
Viewed in their entirety, the resources within the Milford Historic District clearly retain the integrity of the various qualities of character, feeling, workmanship, setting, and materials which are required for National Register designation.
Milford is sited on a bluff overlooking the Delaware River and was famous as a nineteenth- and early twentieth-century summer resort; the town's commercial life was linked inextricably with recreation and tourism, which, in turn, supported downtown mercantile activity throughout the period of significance. Also with respect to Criterion A, the district is significant under conservation and education due to the early twentieth-century siting of the Yale School of Forestry in the district (housed in Forester's Hall, 206-216 Broad Street) and under politics/government for its role as the county seat of Pike County for nearly two centuries, represented by the [First] and [Second] Pike County Court Houses (500-502 Board Street and 412-414 Broad Street, respectively), by the Milford Municipal Building (109 West Catherine Street), and by the John H. Wallace House (120 East Harford Street), where the Borough government was first organized. With respect to Criterion C, the district reflects many of the architectural styles popular within the general context of the Pike-Monroe County area and the Pocono Mountain resort region during the period of significance, which begins ca. 1740, the approximate date of construction of the earliest contributing property in the district (Harford-Smith House, 201 E. Harford Street) and ends ca. 1947, the approximate date of construction of the latest contributing building (313-315 Broad Street). The Milford Historic District lies within a potentially larger historic district containing dozens of architecturally- and historically-significant residential properties; the present district consists of the commercial core of the community and several residential properties incidentally found therein.
The Milford Historic District includes the area that has been the trading center of this northeastern Pennsylvania community for nearly two centuries. As such, the district reflects the fortunes of the town, whose prosperity is evident throughout the district in the substantial buildings constructed in the downtown throughout the period of significance. The buildings erected throughout the district by the town's entrepreneurs housed retail shops, banks, and offices which catered to the commerce that developed in Milford and served community leaders associated with Milford's position as a local governmental center. The district, as the community's commercial hub, also served the managers, workers, and visitors who came here following Milford's establishment as a resort community. Resources within the district which reflect and reinforce the district's position as a commercial center include 107-109 East Harford Street, 200 East Harford Street, the Wallace Building (204 Fourth Street), 317-319 Broad Street, the Pike County Dispatch Building (105 West Catherine Street), the Brown Building (314-322 Broad Street), the Dr. H. E. Emerson Drug Store (3412 Broad Street), and the First National Bank Building (222 Broad Street).
The properties within the district which were previously listed in the National Register (the [Second] Pike County Court House, the Hotel Fauchere and Annex, and Forester's Hall) are significant for commerce (Forester's Hall and Hotel Fauchere and Annex), politics/government (the Court House), conservation (Forester's Hall), education (Forester's Hall), and architecture (all previously-listed resources), and serve as important physical anchors throughout the district.
The native Americans who settled the Milford area were of the Lenni Lenape, or Delaware, nation. No trace of their existence is evident within the district. The locally-acknowledged first European settler in Milford was Thomas Quick (ca. 1690-1756), a Dutch millwright who arrived in the area ca. 1733. Settlement of the rugged terrain was slow throughout the balance of the eighteenth century. In the 1790s, the pristine and picturesque character of the Milford area, with its abundance of natural resources, attracted the attention of a Philadelphia-based circuit-riding judge, John Biddis, Sr., who presided over this wilderness area, then part of Northampton County. One hundred twenty miles north of Philadelphia on the west shore of the Delaware River, Biddis acquired the land that would become Milford, and in 1793 published a lofty prospectus outlining the benefits of the area, including the ability to erect and power mills on the Sawkill and Vandermark Creeks, which
...nearly form the boundaries of this town on the northwest and southeast [and] are well known for their regular supplies of water and must have their influence for almost every manufacturing purpose. (Henn, p. 3)
Biddis' new town, laid out on the "commanding eminence" overlooking the Delaware, was called Milford, referring to the industry which Biddis heralded as the future of the community. He built and operated a grist and a saw mill and became a leader in the fledgling business community. Patterning the community after his Philadelphia home, Biddis platted a regular grid of streets and alleys; settlers from the Philadelphia area constituted the area's earliest majority. Within the historic district, Judge Biddis reserved large lots for public use, a land-use planning strategy that was a deciding factor in Milford's being named county seat of Wayne County in 1798 when Wayne was erected from Northampton County. With the formation of Pike County from Wayne County in 1814, Milford was named county seat. The community remained an unincorporated village until Borough of Milford was incorporated in 1874.
In the first half of the nineteenth century Milford became a bustling crossroads. East-west traffic came through the district on Hartford Street, while north-south travelers entered and left the community and the district using Broad Street. The community's commercial life--and the extant commercial character of the district--depended on its position as county seat, on its ability to cater to water traffic on the Delaware River, and on the commerce generated by north-south and east-west stagecoach travelers. The 1820s establishment of the Delaware and Hudson Canal and the 1840s opening of the Erie Railroad--neither of which came to Milford--could have reduced the community from its stature as a busy county seat by removing the travelers' trade from the settlement. However, at about mid-century New Yorkers and Philadelphians discovered that Milford was the perfect spot to spend the summer, away from the congestion and heat of the city, on the banks of the Delaware in pristine Pike County. Writing in 1886, county historian Alfred Mathews chronicled that Milford's position as a resort and artist colony had by then been firmly established:
The rich and varied scenery in the region round about [sic] Milford has made the town famous and brought it into favor among artists, lovers of nature, tourists, and summer sojourners in general. (p. 889).
Resort hotels were built and Milford became an acknowledged mecca of the rich and famous of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Several hotels are extant within the district; these are noted below. In Vol. IX of the Pike County Historic Site Survey and Scenic Area Survey, County Historian George J. Fluhr recorded
The influx of visitors and the activities they promoted made Summer in Milford a special time of special excitement. Many of the visitors were talented thespians and artists. By association, they added to the culture and prestige of the area. (n.p.)
In the heyday of Milford's resort years, the district hosted luminaries such as "the Divine" Sarah Bernhardt and her son, Maurice, and to Horace Greeley, Rip Van Winkle portrayer Joseph Jefferson, Denman Thompson, star of "The Old Homestead," actress Jeannie Gourlay Struthers--who had been on the stage of Ford's Theater in the cast of "Our American Cousin" when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated--poet-essayist Edmund C. Stedman, and. philosopher-mathematician Charles S. Pierce.
No fewer than ten resort hotels were built in Milford, ranging from modest facilities to the monumental Bluff House, which overlooked the Delaware River. Early in the twentieth century, the 1905 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map listed the Bluff House, the Center Square Hotel, the Terwilliger House, the Crissman House, the Dimmick House, the Glen House, the Hotel Fauchere, the Hotel Jarden, the Sawkill House, the Vandermark Hotel, and the Villa Ina. The 1912 Sanborn Map added the Alpine House, the Hotel Brooklyn, the Hotel Cotterill, and the Milford Inn. Of these, the following are extant within the district: the Hotel Fauchere and its Annex, the Dimmick House, the Terwilliger and Center Square Houses, respectively, now interconnected as the Tom Quick Inn, with a large addition at the rear), and a portion of The Sawkill House and its stable. Most of the other hotels outside the district have been destroyed.
The appreciation of the picturesque qualities of the Milford environs was shared far beyond the confines of the village. In 1912, pioneer film maker D. W. Griffith brought his Biograph players (including Lionel Barrymore, Harry Carey, Mary Pickford and sisters Lillian and Dorothy Gish) to Milford and filmed two motion pictures, "The Informer" and "A Feud in the Kentucky Hills." Scenes from "The Informer" were shot within the community, while, according to the Pike County Press of August 9, 1912, scenes for "A Feud in the Kentucky Hills" were set in the Glen, at Sawkill Falls, at the Cliffs, and along the Delaware--all nearby but outside the district. Other early films shot in and around Milford include the 1917 Charles Brabin production of 'The Adopted Son," George Fitzmaurice's "Naulakah," and Frederick A. Thompson's "A Nymph of the Foothills."
Production operations soon moved to the west coast, but some studios remained in the east. As late as 1927 the Brewster Morse bank robbery production, "The Triumph of the Weak," was filmed in Milford and premiered at the Milford Theatre (extant and operating but outside the district) on July 13, 1928. Filming occurred in and around the district and the community and it is known that major personalities did stay within the district at the Dimmick House and at the Hotel Fauchere. The district's significance for entertainment/recreation is clearly bolstered by Milford's position as an early haven of the fledgling film-making industry.
In the 1920s, the local Chamber of Commerce became involved with the promotion of Milford's resorts, describing the area as a "Vacationer's Dream" and proclaiming
While desiring to foster the Elysian character of this land of heart's desire, we are glad to invite others here to enjoy it with us . . . who are of the best type of American citizens. To such as these, we extend the hand of welcome. (Historic Sites of Milford, p. 5)
The Chamber's elitist call to the "best type of American citizens" was apparently successful, as vacationers continued to frequent the town's recreational haunts well past the 1920s, and continue to do so at the time of writing. Milford's-rebirth as a recreation center has also been advanced by the National Park Service's designation of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area, which abuts the Borough to the east and south.
The rise of the automobile, along with the Depression of the 1930s and World War Two, wrought considerable negative change upon Milford's historic resort industry. Shortages of gasoline during the War, coupled with the mobilization of the American traveler and the rise of the motel in the post-War years, hastened the passing of this once-important component in the community's heritage. Several of the resorts burned, others were demolished, and still others were converted to other uses. As noted above, several major resort hotels remain within the district and are important physical reminders of Milford's position as a nineteenth- and early twentieth-century resort town.
With further reference to Criterion A, the Milford Historic District is significant for its role in the politics and government of the area. The district's capacity in county politics and government is documented in both Court Houses. Local politics and government is represented in the district in the 1855 John H. Wallace House, 120 East Harford Street)--home of the Borough's first Chief Burgess and the site of the first Borough Council meeting in Milford--and in the 1899 Milford Borough Hall, 109 West Catherine Street), which is built of native bluestone and has served as the seat of municipal government since its original construction.
Under Criterion A, the Milford Historic District is also significant in the area of conservation and education, due to the location within the district of Forester's Hall (200-216 Broad Street), the 1904 Hunt and Hunt-designed home of the Yale School of Forestry which was long associated with the Pinchot family. A pivotal anchor on the south edge of the district, Forester's Hall was listed previously in the National Register both for the Criterion A areas of conservation and education and for architecture under Criterion C, representing the work of architects Hunt and Hunt.
Under Criterion C, the Milford Historic District is significant as a cohesive concentration of historic buildings representative of most of the popular styles during the period of significance of the district. The majority of the buildings in the district were built between 1820 and 1900 and lie within a compact central business district which includes commercial buildings, civic and institutional architecture, and a number of residential buildings, most of which have been converted for commercial use. The commercial architecture is generally Italianate in design; other styles represented within the district include Greek, Gothic, and Romanesque Revival, Italian Villa, French Second Empire, Queen Anne, and Neo-Classical and Tudor Revival, along with vernacular adaptations of many of the styles.
In addition to reflecting specific architectural styles, the Milford Historic District also reflects locally-significant historic construction technology. Several buildings are constructed of or are trimmed in native bluestone and are the tangible evidence of an important industry which flourished in the Milford area in the late nineteenth century. Sidewalks associated with several properties are of bluestone as well. Major bluestone quarries were opened in Shohola and at Pond Eddy, including a 4,000-acre tract at Pond Eddy, which was owned by John Fletcher Kilgour, a protege of "Boss" Tweed, James Fisk, and Jay Gould during the unsavory heyday of the Erie Railroad. Buildings which represent the era of bluestone construction include Forester's Hall, the Brown Building, the Milford Municipal Building, and the commercial building located at 107-109 East Harford Street.
The district also represents the work of locally-significant builders and one regionally-prominent architect. Active during the last quarter of the nineteenth and the early years of the twentieth century, the work of master builder Abram D. Brown is represented in the commercial building which he constructed for his own use at 314-322 Broad Street, as well as in the 1872-74 [Second] Pike County Court House, the 1902 Dr. H. E. Emerson House/Hotel Fauchere Annex and the ca. 1890 Dr. William Kenworthey House. The Snyder family were local builders who constructed homes, commercial buildings, and churches throughout Milford and the environs. Particularly adroit at the use of native cobblestone and bluestone, Andrew C. (b. 1857) and Joseph G. Snyder (b. 1870) built the 1915 Pike County Dispatch Building using cobblestone for the bearing walls. The identity of the designers of most buildings within the district is unknown. However, with reference to Criterion C, it is known that several buildings within the district were designed by leading American architects of the day. The 1860s Milford Post Office at the corner of Broad and West Harford was the work of Calvert Vaux (1824-1895), perhaps best known for his associations with landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and architect A. J. Downing. Hunt and Hunt (successor firm to Richard Morris Hunt [1827-1895] who had designed the Pinchot family home, Grey Towers, outside of town) designed Forester's Hall. The New York firm of Heins & LaFarge (George L. Heins [1860-1907] and Christopher G. LaFarge [1862-1938]) were responsible for the 1899 remodeling of the Pinchot Homestead/Milford Community House. Heins and LaFarge (son of painter/stained glass artist John LaFarge) were noted ecclesiastical designers who, among other major commissions, won the competition for the design of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, begun in 1892 but completed by Cram, Goodhue, & Ferguson following Heins' death. Two buildings in the district, the 1872-74 [Second] Pike County Court House and the 1874 Presbyterian Church were designed by Paterson, New Jersey architect George Barton.
The Milford Historic District clearly meets the Criteria for Evaluation for the National Register. The district is significant under Criterion A for several areas of significance. As the seat of local and county government since the earliest days of the nineteenth century, the district is significant in the area of politics/government. For its association with the mercantile life of Milford, the district is significant in the area of commerce. As the location of other previously-listed properties and additional associated resources, the district is significant for conservation, education, and entertainment/recreation. As a cohesive concentration of historic commercial buildings, with which are intermingled some residential buildings, the district is significant under Criterion C both for its reflection of building patterns during the period of significance and for its representation of the work of several locally-important master builders and locally- and nationally-renowned architects.
Viewing the Milford Historic District in the context of other commercial districts in the region, the Milford district is characteristic of most downtowns, in that it consists of an area arranged in a grid of streets and alleys, with buildings built flush with one another with little or no front line setback. Since the bulk of the district developed in the nineteenth century, the architectural styles of the buildings in Milford are not dissimilar to other districts in communities such as Stroudsburg or Honesdale, both within fifty miles of Milford. In closer proximity, beginning in the 1960s, Dingman's Ferry, a nearby settlement on the Delaware River, was cleared during the development of the Delaware National Recreation Area, leaving no historic commercial heritage. Matamoras, northeast of Milford about eight miles up the Delaware, contains virtually no historic business district, despite its position across the river from Port Jervis, New York, establishing it as a major entry point into New York from Pennsylvania and vice versa. Port Jervis itself has a small, generally Italianate-derived downtown whose character does not compare favorably to that of Milford due to insensitive alterations to much of the historic fabric. As a Pocono Mountain resort town, Milford's architectural integrity and character are unrivaled by any other community of its size. Stroudsburg is larger than Milford, with a significantly larger central business district with an important concentration of historic architecture post-dating from the mid-nineteenth century. Stroudsburg's downtown area is not listed in the National Register at the time of writing. As noted above, Matamoras in no way compares to the rich architectural legacy of Milford.
A context can also be developed for Milford as the eastern gateway to the northern tier of Pennsylvania. U. S. Route 6 (known as the "Grand Army of the Republic Highway") enters Pennsylvania from New Jersey at Milford and crosses the state, winding through a variety of communities, large and small. The Route 6 communities of Scranton, Williamsport, Warren, and Erie are far larger than Milford and each possess a rich collection of historic architecture which eclipses Milford by sheer numbers. Mansfield, Wellsboro, Coudersport, and Kane, on the other hand, are comparable to Milford, while Galeton and Union City do not possess the building stock evident within the Milford Historic District, which as a locally-significant resource clearly retains the overall qualities required for National Register listing.