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A New Anchor Business in Downtown?

It needs a lot of work, but the historic Harrison's Hardware building has awesome potential.

 

One resident fondly remembers the creaking sound the wood floor used to make. Countless others will never forget the familiar faces of a family-owned business that supplied Milford residents and businesses with goods and services for more than a century.

We're talking about Harrison's Hardware, of course - the landmark building at 36 Broad Street in .

A Brief History

The store opened in October 1907 as Harrison and Gould. It grew over the years and, in time, brought in new merchandise and services and diversified its customer base to meet both changing demand and to compete in an evolving economy. That's how Richard Miller, one of the longtime owners, relates it in a Q&A published in 2000 on ConnTact.

Miller joined forces with Ace Hardware in Harrison's later years to gain greater buying power amidst the birth of big box competitors like Home Depot and Lowe's. But, eventually, the business met its demise when, in 2006, a fire in the building left the store flooded from the sprinkler system.

Today, the 15,000-square-foot structure, ripe with code issues, is essentially unusable in its current state.

The Building's Future

Harrison's has remained vacant since that fire, for more than five years. There was a glimmer of hope last year when Ace Hardware expressed an interest in possibly reopening there. At that time, in May, Milford Economic Development Commissioner Robert Stanton told the Connecticut Post:

"This is not an area of focus for them; they are concentrating on other parts of the country. But there is interest. There are current ACE franchise holders who are interested."

A reader responded to that article by stating in a comment:

“How will Ace compete with Home Depot or Lowes? Seems like a better idea would be to gut the building, and set up a restaurant in it, or divide it into smaller shops.”

Asked in April of last year what would be a good use for the space, Milford Patch reader said: "I would like to see a green grocer, something like a mini Glorias or a Trader Joes!"

We pose the question to you again: what would you like to see open at the former Harrison's Hardware store?

Louise Marie Hebert May 01, 2012 at 01:34 PM
I think the idea of a Theatre Company is excellent! However there needs to be an incredible influx of money and resources to either tear the current building down or bring it up to code. I am not sure who has the financial resources to do this. But from a big picture perspective this would bring a tremendous amount of traffic to downtown which would benefit everyone.
arkay May 01, 2012 at 08:04 PM
I disagree. The right restaurant that's already established as very popular in another area would do really well there. Think regional restaurants like Barcelona, bartaco, Prime 16, Modern Apizza, popular staples that would fit in well with the downtown atmosphere. There's the potential side parking on that building and there's usually plenty of parking along the green.
arkay May 01, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Or a Dinosaur BBQ!
arkay May 21, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Is there any progress with this? This space being empty is really holding downtown back. The right tenant could literally transform that whole area.
Barbara Morrell June 27, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Karen, I with you on clothing. I know the Harrison family well and it would break my heart to see the building razed or change. I realize it needs to be updated but please whoever goes there please keep the look. NOTE: The reason the building didn't burnduring the fire that took out two stores, Canvas Patch and the candy store because Charlie Harrison had installed an outside sprinkler system so when the fire got hot the system saved the building. What genius, sprinkers outside the building. Then the second fire, since everyone loved the wooden floors, even though the insurance rates went up because of them, Charlie installed a system inside the store so when that fire "happened"(?) the outcome was water damage. Eveidentally Charlie and Alice Harrison wanted the piece of Milford History to last on and on.

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