Our Town Now and Then
Milford was incorporated as a borough by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 15, 1911, from portions of Holland Township, based on the results of a referendum held on May 8, 1911. The borough’s incorporation was confirmed on March 13, 1925.
Milford is located on the Delaware River in the western portion of Hunterdon County. The Borough dates to the mid-18th century when the land was acquired by the West Jersey Council of Proprietors from a local Lenape Unami tribe. After a sawmill in town was destroyed by fire in 1769, the settlement became known as Burnt Mills. In 1796 Colonel Thomas Lowrey purchased the 333 acre Burnt Mills tract and renamed it Lowreytown. Two years later he sold the southern half of the tract, which became Frenchtown. The town was again renamed “Millsford” upon the death of Colonel Lowrey, but by 1844 the name lost the “S” and second “L”. Milford was incorporated in 1911, but was not registered as an election district until 1925 due to a filing error. The election of 1911 was technically illegal, but don’t tell that to Wilson Egbert Thomas, Milford’s first mayor!
While much has changed socioeconomically over the past two centuries, Milford still retains much of its historical landscape and architecture. A stroll down Bridge Street reveals much of our 19th and early 20th century architecture. On the west side of town, some of Milford’s oldest structures still stand proudly, including the former Lowrey residence and the grist mill that gave Milford its name. The Milford Opera House, which was our community’s main source of entertainment before the availability of television, still stands on Carpenter Street along with our train station and feed mill on Railroad Avenue, as evidence of Milford’s diverse and thriving past. In your stroll through town you will be walking in the footsteps of Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, governors, veterans of all wars, industrial workers from a wide variety of industries, farmers, bankers, merchants, teachers and many other people who have made Milford what it is today.
For more information on the history of Milford go to the Milford Historical Society Website.