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Colony Grill Co-Owner Explains Partial Demolition of Harrison's Hardware

"It's been empty for six years," said Colony Grill co-owner Ken Martin. "It's not like we can put some Windex on the windows and open for business."

 

This morning, as construction crews set about demolishing the front half of Harrison's Hardware, Milford citzens took to Facebook to discuss their feelings on the partial tearing down of a Milford landmark. 

Kim Fleming wrote, "More memories just went into a pile of rubble...so sad" and another Milford resident commented, "Not happy. This should have been a protected landmark."

Robert Kurfehs, however, wrote, "The building was not redeemable. Progress!"

What's Staying, What's Gone

"The front of the building won't stand on it's own," co-owner Ken Martin told Milford Patch today via phone. "We've done everything that we said we would."

Martin added that they tried to keep as much of the wood flooring as possible. "It was such a beautiful floor," but noted that "there was a lot of oil damage." 

Colony Grill first announced that they were coming to Milford in June of 2012, with Ken Martin saying, "We're going to preserve as much as possible and take input from the town."

Mayor Ben Blake likewise noted, "I’ve met with the owners of Colony Grill and they are committed to preserving the local charm of the property."

"We've done everything that we could," Martin said today. "We've saved a lot of stuff from the interior. The mural wasn't salvageable. It's just the front part that had to come down. The back part is being refurbished."

"I think their intentions were to preserve as much as they could. And they are going to recreate what they couldn't preserve," Milford Economic & Community Development Director Bob Gregory said.

Martin sent Milford Patch a rendering of what the new structure will look like, which is attached.

"Architect John Wicko of Milford tried to incorporate the design of the original Harrison and Gould building into the look of the new store front," Martin wrote. "He researched numerous old photos and came up with what think is a great link from our business to the past."

The New Mural

Ken Martin noted that Colony Grill is working with the Milford Fine Arts Council and the Murals of Milford about constructing a new mural inside of Colony Grill, noting that Murals of Milford is "putting out a call to local artists."

RONALD M GOLDWYN November 30, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Jay, You are correct in that I misread his statement. I thought he was going to save the outdoor mural back in September after Peter Spaltoff offered his wall next door. Back in Sept. Ken never stated that the building and mural would be demolished. Why should he and risk possible delays by the historic preservation commission or others. So we lost our historic outdoor mural and it will be replaced with a new indoor mural which will be seen by patrons only. To me that is not a fair exchange for Milford. Now from all the postings from patrons who visited his other stores, they all rave about his food especially the pizza, and I too look forward to being one of his patrons. I'm trying not to sound like this is a case of spilled milk, since our mural is now in some garbage dump. Yes, I may be a sore loser, but the big loser is youth of Milford who lost part of their heritage.
CtLynn5 November 30, 2012 at 06:27 PM
I believe all they serve is pizza (at least that's all they had when I used to go as a kid). The sausage and stingers is the best. Hopefully, they still use DeYulio's sausage.
John Pasnau November 30, 2012 at 06:55 PM
I'm surprised anyone thinks of the Harrison's building as a "Landmark". It was a piece of crap, cheep commercial building when it was built. It was an old piece of crap cheep commercial building when it was torn down. The mural was second rate and all murals of its kind are nothing more than temporary due to being located outside on a piece of crap commercial building. Good riddance. Just because something is old does not necessarily make it worth keeping, preserving, repairing or saving.
FRANCES November 30, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Bill you are so right!!! I was born & raised in Milford and cannot believe what has happened to our beautiful little town....It has been so over developed at this point there is no old Milford left.
FRANCES November 30, 2012 at 08:30 PM
The floors were charming just as the memories of going there on Sat mornings with my Dad are. You are the new people in milford that make it the way it is now. Cold & uncaring....
jungis4545 November 30, 2012 at 09:35 PM
"Just because something is old does not necessarily make it worth keeping, preserving, repairing or saving." There's your warning, Ron. Very well said, Mr. Pasnau.
LAM December 01, 2012 at 01:30 AM
With all due respect to those of you who feel that the loss of an OLD decrepit Harrisons building and a faded mural are tragedies, I offer you downtown West Haven as a refuge. They have plenty of run down ancient buildings for you to remember days long gone. In your yearnings for nostalgia you would saddle us with a rotting corpse of a building just so your memories can be preserved. Thankfully after 6 years of decay, the corpse will be replaced by something new and fresh which will create jobs, generate business for the other retailers in the center and add to the tax base.
C.S. December 01, 2012 at 01:40 AM
This is what I've been saying all along. The owners did not demo the building and consequently the mural just because they felt like it, they did it because salvaging them was just not financially or otherwise feasible. I wonder how many people who are upset by the loss of this mural bothered to offer assistance in salvaging it, or finding a new home for it on their dime? Well said LAM and jungis.
Jay Volanth December 01, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Also, the time to have saved the mural was before it deteriorated beyond repair, i.e., a couple years ago when it sat idle. To make a big deal about now when it is too late and someone is developing the property for another purpose is just grandstanding.
jungis4545 December 01, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Ron Goldwyn grandstanding? A perfect use of the word. Let's make him surrender his car keys to the MPD.
Jennifer December 01, 2012 at 02:13 PM
I have to say that this discussion has been enlightening. My family moved to Milford in 1989. I have been a part of this community and have raised my children here. My family is involved in the preservation of historic Milford. I applaude the Colony Grill for taking the time to work with officials and local architects to do what is right in trying to stay within the historic feel and aura of our city. The rantings of those who harbor ill will toward development is valid but misplaced. The youth of this city depends on if they want to stay and work here. Lets not be niave to the fact that we are in a place of commerce that will allow our city to thrive and grow. Holding onto significant historic landmarks is important, but having functional space to grow and bring in commerce is a fact of life. I would be proud to have my daughter (an artist) be a part of the mural in the resturant. I would be proud if my son were to be a bus boy or waiter for his first job at the Colony grill. Please let Milford grow and evolve. It is a wonderful city and I hope it will continue to be the place my children are proud to call their home.
Downtown Milford Business Association (DMBA) December 01, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Three cheers for Colony Grill, and all those who have supported Colony Grill's decision to open in picturesque Downtown Milford. Anyone wishing to see plans for the new Colony structure can do so by visiting the Milford Chamber Tuesday through Friday 8:30 - 4:30 p.m. Downtown Milford is STILL populated with many wonderful historic structures and sites. As a matter of fact, you'll often encounter people from throughout Connecticut, the U.S.A., and indeed from throughout the world strolling around Downtown Milford with a Historic Map in hand. These visitors also shop, eat, and utilize the services of the businesses in Downtown Milford. Colony Grill will be a wonderful addition to the Downtown Milford district as it continues to thrive as the heartbeat of the "Small City with a Big Heart."
RONALD M GOLDWYN December 01, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Jungis, Thank you for the name-calling but I've been taught never to descend to a lower level, but to strive to raise him up to your level. So I shall not respond to your childish posting. Jennifer, I hope your wishes come true. Many in our community need jobs and we have many vacant commercial storefronts that need businesses to fill them. Everyone wants to see Colony Grill come to Milford, because of its fine reputation for their food and I'm sure we can sustain another Italian food shop in the downtown area. The discussion that we have had started about the outdoor murals of Milford at a time when we had two, one in Devon and the other on the exterior wall of the former hardware store called Harrisons. Harrison's closed due to an interior fire and for one reason or another it never reopened. Here on Patch we had many discussions as to what our resident would like to see replace the old hardware store. Then we learned that an Italian Restaurant had acquired the property and planned to open on that site. This lead to the discussion on the fate of the landmark exterior mural painted on the exterior wall of the building.
RONALD M GOLDWYN December 01, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Those who examined it up close saw that windows were covered over with plywood and most of the siding was made of shingles, so that removing or relocating it would be a costly endeavor. Yet many in our city were hopeful that the new owners as a gesture of good faith would take on this preservation. During the past decade we have had at least three developers assure this community that they would preserve some of our historic buildings only to find that these buildings were destroyed. With this as a background during discussions here on Patch we thought our mural was to be saved, but the fine-print showed that once the property was rebuilt a new picture or mural would decorate the interior of the restaurant. Surely this was not what many had expected, especially when our original subject of discussion was Milford's outdoor murals. Well the mural is now in the rubbish, and the new replacement wall will be blank. That is quite a difference. I would hope that Ken would now have Milford artists reproduce another OUTDOOR mural on his bare wall showing historic scenes of Milford. I have in my computer over 4000 old Picture Postcards that artists can use as the basis for their mural, should they choose to do so.
LAM December 01, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Ron, If murals are so important to you paint one on your house. If there was to be a new mural, instead of your OLD postcards being the basis for a new mural, what would you say to hiring some urban artists to create a hip hop themed mural? You would HATE it, but perhaps then you would understand that not everyone looks upon murals as a needed art form.
RONALD M GOLDWYN December 02, 2012 at 12:59 AM
LAM, The Harrison mural was on that wall long before I arrived in Milford. I'm not against progress, as I originally said that I believed the building could not be saved. At the same time I said the mural could be saved at a price that I believed was more than the owners cared to pay. This was proved correct by the activity of the past week. I can also understand that you and others feel that it was an eyesore and worth getting rid of, but there were others who felt that even if it looked like a child artist did the painting it was worth saving. The mural had scenes of Milford as we were almost 100 years ago, such as the Walnut Beach amusement park, which is also long gone, so it did have redeeming value. Now we are discussing something that is gone. You won, but what did you win? A new blank wall of no artistic value. My original appeal was for the new owners was to find a way to save the mural and install it on their new wall, but since they broke no law they did the least expensive way of not informing the public back in September that their intention was to demolish the front 2/3rds of the building in the near future, in in so doing eliminate any public outcry and possible delay that might have ensued. Were I the owner who wanted a restaurant built in the shortest amount of time, taxes and building cost, I would have done the same. I don't have to say that this was in the best interest of our citizens. It was in their best interest only. Thanks for hearing me out
LAM December 02, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Ron: There always are two sides, you have your opinion, I have mine. Neither one is 100% right or wrong. I myself don't think there was any deception on the part of Mr. Martin as to his intentions, he always has been upfront. Perhaps there was some nuance that could have been misunderstood, but from my point of view he has been quite clear from day one.
MJ December 04, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Ron: Have you apologized to Ken Martin and the folks at Colony Grill yet? The majority of the posts here are very supportive and welcome the new restaurant that appears to be an aesthetically pleasing addition to our charming downtown. (not to mention it will also bring more consumers downtown as well) It is unfortunate that you continue to vociferate about the mural. I believe that your deep rooted problem is that you do not like pizza!
RONALD M GOLDWYN December 04, 2012 at 07:15 PM
MJ Did you drive your car off the ramp thinking the ferry was still there? The boat has sailed. The mural is GONE, the subject has been terminated as there is nothing to discuss. As for me, I love pizza and I will judge Colony Grill's when they open in Milford I will also judge their interior decoration at the same time. As for your comments to me, I see that you have nothing to say regarding the topic of the discussion which was outdoor art in Milford. As for the new structure, I would like to see more patrons in our downtown area if there is adequate parking. What I didn't like is to see another of Milford's historic Landmarks destroyed in the name of progress. My guess is that you feel that every tree on our Green should be removed so that the city workers will not have to string the Christmas lights or maintain the trees thereby saving taxpayer money. I'm sorry somethings are worth saving and that included our mural. Thanks to you and others who could only feel for what went into their bellies and the building we have only one new exterior mural in Milford.
Michael Nelson December 04, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Does anyone recall what the surface of the mural looked like before the mural was painted? If it was another mural, what did it look like? If it was nothing, did people at the time think the "new" mural was graffiti and not art? Maybe not everyone liked the change from what was there to the way it was just a few weeks ago? Change is usually an obstacle because new things are foreign to us and new, foreign things are scary to us humans. It's engraved in our DNA and has kept us alive as a species all these years. New things also tend to show our age. I, for one, lament on the days when we had to use a rotary dial while my father recalls the telegraph lines in upstate New York, all while my grandfather laughs at us both with stories of horses bringing mail around. ...Given that, change can be a good thing, too. I'm glad I don't have dirt roads and a horse to feed just to get to work, and I look forward to seeing what the Colony Grill has to offer for both food and indoor/outdoor aesthetics.
RONALD M GOLDWYN December 04, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Mr Nelson, I happen to be very active in the Milford Lions Club, having served in every elected office. I mention this only because our emblem is a two faced Lion with one face looking back and the other looking forward. Our past had a hand painted mural, now we will look forward to seeing what will appear on the rebuilt wall.
Scott December 04, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Ron- Why do you get to determine that the mural was worth saving? I'm sorry, but being the self-annointed Patch message board policeman does not give you that right. I think you need another hobby other than murals and message boards.
RONALD M GOLDWYN December 04, 2012 at 10:45 PM
What mural are you talking about?
Cheryl Craig Smith December 04, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Ken, I for one cannot wait for you to come to Milford! Colony Pizza is going to be a great addition to downtown. I grew up in Stamford and use to know one of your pizza makers, great pizza! As for Ron, he always complains about everything, he never posts anything good, just tries to cause problems. Welcome to Milford Colony Pizza!!!
John Pasnau December 04, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Calling the Harrison building "another of Milford's historic Landmarks" is like calling a pig an endangered species. It was a cheap eyesore. A piece of crap when it was built and a piece of crap 100 years later when it was torn down.
C.S. December 05, 2012 at 12:13 AM
That is what I've been saying all along, just because a dilapidated old building remained standing for many years does not make it a landmark, and as for the mural why didn't all these people who cared so much for it volunteer to take it apart piece by piece on their own time and their own dime and relocate it somewhere Ron could sit and enjoy it.
MJ December 05, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Ron's sudden amnesia must mean he really has accepted the fact that the mural is gone! Unless Jungis finally sent MPD to get his keys!
RONALD M GOLDWYN December 05, 2012 at 01:43 AM
MJ Yes this is the third historic structure to be destroyed in Milford during the past 10 years. I hope you are proud of that fact?
MJ December 05, 2012 at 01:12 PM
I am proud to live in a community that has such a charming and lively downtown and I enjoy supporting our local merchants. I have fond memories of Harrison's and would have loved to see the old wood floors in the new restaurant, however, that decision belongs to the new owners. (if feasibly practical) The structure was hardly a "historical landmark" though. Anyone who thought the building was worth saving should have done something to preserve it during the past SIX years! BTW, can some post a picture of the mural, because I can't remember what it looked like!
RONALD M GOLDWYN December 05, 2012 at 11:09 PM
MJ Back when this thread first started months ago, I said that as a former Structural engineer and Supt. of Construction, it was my opinion that due to the damage of the structure the new owners would not be able to save the building, but if the owners chose to spend the money the mural might be saved. The mural was scenes of Milford more than 75 years ago with the Southern most 25 feet being of Milford bay with Charles island being the last object in the mural.

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