Your Take: Construction at Harrison's Site

Do you have concerns about how much of the original Harrison's site will remain intact as Colony Grill begins construction?


Do you think that will do their best to preserve historic elements of the property?

Let us know what you think in the comments section!

Ryan Sartor (Editor) September 14, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Alissa Dragan: "Hoping they keep the old store-front, but I doubt it will happen..." Shelley Holly Moyher: "would be nice to keep something...." Renee Healey: "I read in previous articles that they would try to keep as much as possible. I hope its true. Very excited for it to open!" Lori G. Chaisson: "I think they will leave as much as they can...They choose it for the old charm!!" Alissa Dragan: "Colony Grill is awesome by the way! I can't wait to go get a pie with a stinger!!!!!" Kevin McGrath: "They should preserve the mural" Xuan Chau: "Image boost downtown. Awesome. Thanks colony grill and your amazing pizzas!" Kathleen DePolo Bell: "Use some of that old crooked floor for wainscoting in a bathroom. Many memories, but business's need to move forward." - Comments left on the Milford Patch Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/MilfordCTPatch
RONALD M GOLDWYN September 14, 2012 at 04:35 PM
What distinguishes Milford from other towns and cities is its history. We are one of Connecticut's oldest and we are constantly losing that history by government not enforcing our preservation of historic sites. Such as going along with saying they preserved a building by tearing it down but saving the lumber. Now one of our LANDMARKS is almost extinct on the side of Harrisons. It is the oldest of two outdoor murals in Milford and folks in government don't give a damn if it too disappears. I don't know the owners of Colony Grill, but from reports they serve very good food and the sole purpose of that is to make money. But will they support the culture of this city if preserving our mural eats into their profit. There are many locations in Milford for modern architecture but the historic Green should have the historic exterior preserved to what it was a century ago. At least ban electric store signs so that the fortune spent in street lighting fits into the character of preserved old structures. Colony Grill, Please find a way to save our mural, while you rebuild Harrison's interior, it can be done if you have the will to do so.
Bebe Gallo September 14, 2012 at 06:38 PM
I hope they preserve the front of the building. It would be wonderful if it was possible to keep the mural, too. And, I loved the creaky old floor. The building is such a part of Milford's history.
RONALD M GOLDWYN September 14, 2012 at 08:30 PM
I spent half my working career as a superintendent of construction and a structural engineer. I was also employed as a building inspector for the NYC BOE and the Village of Russell Gardens, NY. As much as I would like to save the old Harrison's, I know that it closed because of an internal fire and was saved by its sprinkler system. But just because it didn't burn to its foundation, is no reason to assume that it is economical to rebuild it. It is like your automobile where insurance companies write off a car when the repair costs exceeds its value.- Even when you feel it is a collector's item. What I'm trying to save is a work of art that is unique to Milford. Right now another group is trying to save the Milford Diner which is just down the street. These all deserve preservation considering the lack of enforcement provided by our government. Maybe public opinion can change attitudes here.
C.S. September 14, 2012 at 08:44 PM
I believe that Ronald summed this up the best. Well said my friend.
Joe Della Monica September 14, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Ron, your comments are off target. When these plans were brought before the P&Z Board the mural was talked about and the owners of the property were more than willing to repaint a new mural on the side of the building once the renovation work is complete. The plan will involve both high school art programs.
Barbara Morrell September 14, 2012 at 11:12 PM
I too believe Roland summed it up. Look at old pictures of downtown Milford Center, Harrisons is always there. I do hope they keep the front, the mural on the side (repainted or refurbished) and the old wooden floors inside. I was a close friend of Alice and Charlie Harrison and they loved their store and Milford. Good Luck to the new owners.
LAM September 15, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Harrison's a historical site? It is an old building that housed a hardware store, nothing more. If Milford is to have a vibrant downtown then it's citizens have to stop living in the past. Being old does not make a building historical.
Peter Spalthoff September 15, 2012 at 02:16 AM
LAM is right on Harrison's building is old but it is not a historical building and what the new owners are about to do to it will certainly bode well for our downtown. I certainly believe that we must hold onto as much of Milfords history and have worked to do that with helping to retrieve the FortTrumbull cannon and the old submarine but, I don't feel the same way about the building. I also believe that our best draw and asset that we have in Milford are our neighbors. Just my opinion. Thanks
RONALD M GOLDWYN September 15, 2012 at 04:55 AM
Peter, the old building most likely will be torn down as it will not meet our building code or the fire code for a restaurant, but the mural can be preserved. Having a contest for a new one does not save the old. the siding can be carefully removed and then reinstalled on the side of the new restaurant.All it costs is a bit of additional cash. Peter, I'm proud of how you rebuilt your building, it fits into the neighborhood unlike the building next to you. You have painted signs that are not electric and are good looking.
Peter Spalthoff September 15, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Ron, thanks for the cudos regarding my building. As for the Harrison building, I believe that the structure as you see it presently will not be taken down and that the new people will just be redoing the outside of the building and to my understanding it will not include the mural. I have spoken with the new restaurant owners and we hopefully will be able to recreate the existing mural on my east wall on Harborwalk.
Judy Irwin September 15, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Judy Irwin Four generations of my family walked on those wide-planked floors in Harrison's. I hope that some of the planks can be salvaged and utilized in the new building. Many Milfordites have very fond memories of aspects of the Harrison's building.
RONALD M GOLDWYN September 15, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Dear Peter, I just made a special trip to the mural and studied it for quite a time. While most of what remains is painted on what appears to be asphalt shingles with a 3" exposure a number of areas are on plywood filling in window areas. the first 12' of shingles is gone while the last 30' is painted water ending with what appears to be Charles Island. To be honest this appears to be a massive project to preserve and I don't know if it really can be saved. Peter, your offer to recreate it on your wall is most generous and I applaud you for your public spirit. Ms Irwin, your remarks remind me of the Grand Old Opery House in Nashville, where they built a new structure but preserved a 3'x3' section of the old stage in the new one. Maybe the same can be done in the rebuilt Harrison's?
Colony Grill - Milford September 15, 2012 at 04:56 PM
On behalf of my Colony Grill partners, I just wanted to thank everyone who took the time to leave comments on this blog. We are extremely excited about opening in downtown Milford in early 2013. We will most certainly be preserving or reproducing a number of components from the old Harrison's structure. We would like to incorporate the old sign, we would like to reproduce the famous mural (perhaps even on the inside of the new restaurant), and we have a number of old photos, mementos, and other memorabilia from the Harrison family that should fit nicely with our overall Pre-War style. This is a major renovation and construction project for us, and we are very excited to be moving forward with it. I'm not sure we will be able to please everyone with our final result, but we can promise that as business owners and local CT natives, Colony Grill will be built professionally and respectfully, taking into account the history of the great city of Milford as well as all the current building codes and design guidelines that we are required to follow. We want to be a part of the community, and we can assure you that we will take much care to at once represent what Harrison's was and reflect the improvement Colony can hopefully be in the days ahead. Please feel free to contact us anytime at info@colonygrill.com with concerns, comments or questions regarding the new Milford location. Sincerely and respectfully, Ken Martin Colony Grill Co-Owner
arkay September 15, 2012 at 05:54 PM
I personally don't care. The building was nothing special. It had character, yes, but think of all the beautiful 17th-19th century homes and buildings that were torn down in the name of "progress". Other than the creaky wood floors and vintage signage, there wasn't much worth saving except for nostalgia. To an outsider (like myself who moved here 3 years ago), I would be more concerned that the new building is aesthetically tuned in to the vision of downtown. New England coastal, colonial, Nantucket-style, something appropriate for the area. I'm sure they will do a great job.
arkay September 15, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Thanks for making sense! This is not a national historic landmark by any means. Lots of amazing buildings have been torn down in Milford that had significant historical status. Let's move forward!
Peter Spalthoff September 15, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Ken, any chance you can get someone to clean up the front of the building on Broad Street. The bushes could and should be cut down. Thanks
Colony Grill - Milford September 15, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Peter, yes, we have the overgrown bushes on our demo/cleanup to-do list. You should see improvements vey soon as we get underway in earnest.
Peter Spalthoff September 15, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Thanks Ken that will make a major difference and will show just how receptive and concerned about the appearance of the downtown you guys are.
RONALD M GOLDWYN September 15, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Dear Ken, I want to thank you for giving us some true information regarding the future plans for your property.. As you can see many are more concerned with the food you will be serving, while others feel for our historic Green area. I look forward to personally to welcoming you to our city. While I have lived here for less than 20 years, from my first day I have downloaded picture postcards of Milford as posted on Ebay. In this way I learned the history of my new hometown. In retirement I am a noted historian but in another field so I look forward to seeing your decorations. I especially appreciated hearing that you hope to save our mural in some fashion and I do thank you for what ever effort you make.
Colony Grill - Milford September 15, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Thank you, Peter and Ronald.
Judy Irwin September 15, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Dear Mr. Goldwyn, Your remarks about the"Grand Old Opery" were a fair analogy to my desire to have some of the wide planks preserved and used in the new structure. It may sound silly to some, but it would mean a great deal to me...and perhaps to others whose family "roots" go back a long way. Judy Irwin
JP September 17, 2012 at 12:45 PM
If anyone takes a drive down to visit the Colony in Fairfield, they will see that the owners took an old storefront, gutted it, and renovated it with brick walls and have covered those walls with pictures of local veterans and fire fighters from the Fairfield area. This is similar to what was done over the decades in the original Colony in Stamford. The Fairfield Colony is a very nice restaurant with the right mix of bar space, TVs for sporting events, and a separate dining area for families. I have no doubt the Milford restaurant will be just as nice.
ChristaK September 17, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Colony in time will turn into a Milford landmark, as it is in Stamford! It's a great place!~ Milford is fortunate that they choose it for a new location! I am so very happy! It's a good thing!!!!
Peter Spalthoff September 17, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Christak, you hit the nail on the head with your comment about Milford being fortunate to have Colony Grill choosing to come here. I have said for years that Milford's downtown is a restaurant destination and the arrival of Colony Grill and the new Yogurt shop two doors down from it confirms that other business owners feel the same way, or at least they can see the benefit of coming to Milford. This is the message that should continually be coming from City officials that Milford is an awesome place to do business and not the stuff about broken bottles in a parking lot and whatever other negative stuff that has been recently reported in the papers. Consider for a minute the due diligence that these folks did prior to taking on the projects that they have and remember that there are 169 other communities they could have gone to yet they picked Milford. That's a wonderful statement about this wonderful City and their soon to be neighbors.
Peter Spalthoff September 17, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Ken, I don't want to harp on this because you already said that you would be getting to cleaning up the front of the building soon. However, for the sake of the community and an easy way to ingratiate yourself to the community, would you PLEASE have one of your workers at least clean up the overgrowth in the front of the building that now flows onto the sidewalk? Such a little request that will have BIG results. thanks
arkay September 18, 2012 at 11:29 PM
The Fairfield location has a great look. I hope the exterior of this one is a little different, as I'm not sure how the fully brick facade would fit in (there's a lot of brick in Fairfield's downtown). I think Spinnaker started a good trend with their Schooner Lane buildings. They have that New England coastal look down pretty well.
Colony Grill - Milford September 23, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Peter, our demolition contractor was doing some weed & brush clean-up to the front of the building this past weekend. Do you notice a difference in the appearance? Thanks, Ken
Peter Spalthoff September 23, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Ken, thanks your guys did a great job in cleaning up the front of the building and it certainly should show folks your willingness to make this project one that will only enhance the appearance of the downtown. Thanks again, it looks the best it has in years....
MJ September 24, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Nice work Ken!! Looking forward to having a hot oil pie soon!


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