A century of living

September 20, 2018

MILFORD — It’s hard to say goodbye to a house that has been in your family for roughly a century. But that’s what Bill Harrison is preparing to do, listing his beloved family Colonial at 38 Governors Ave. for sale.

“It’s always been a family house,” Harrison said, adding that four generations of Harrisons have lived there. “We’re looking to pass it on to someone who will treat it that way.”

With two of the family’s children in college and a son starting high school, the 3,161-square-foot, four-bedroom house is feeling a bit large for him and his wife, Harrison said. Yet selling it was a hard decision, as the house isn’t just a big piece of family history. It’s an important part of Milford history as well.

Harrison’s grandfather Charles Harrison — Charlie to his friends — was the “Harrison” in Harrison and Gould hardware store, a Milford institution that opened on Broad Street in 1907. Eventually, the store just became Harrison’s, and kept that name until a fire and subsequent sprinkler flood forced it to close its doors in 2006. In 2013, the site of the store became a Colony Grill pizza restaurant.

The store is one of a handful of businesses in the Milford Hall of Fame, which typically honors city residents.

The house, listed at $549,000, was built in 1915 and might have been home to another family before the Harrisons moved in, Bill Harrison said. However, the home’s listing agent, Stacy Pfannkuch, said it’s possible that no one was really living there before the Harrisons, and that the builder or a family member listed themselves as the initial owner.

“That was very common in those days,” she said.

At any rate, Harrison said he’s not sure when his grandfather moved in, but it was no later than 2018, meaning the family has been in the home for at least 100 years. Though there have been some updates — most notably a complete renovation of the third floor — much of the house is original, including the hardwood floors, the brick fireplace in the living room and a stained glass window on the second floor.

The home is full of memories for Harrison. He is particularly fond of the backyard (the residence sits on a little less than half an acre), where family members were always playing croquet or bocce or otherwise amusing themselves. At one point, Harrison recalled, at the very back of their property was a converted chicken coop that his grandfather had wired for electricity. It was a popular spot for family members to hang out in when they were in a bad mood, and to enjoy a stiff drink (or a soda, for younger relatives).

“My dad called it ‘The Pout Pen,’ ” Harrison recalled.

The house also includes a first-floor office that Charles Harrison used as a bedroom in the 1950.

“He had had a bout of heart attacks and could no longer walk up and down the stairs,” Bill Harrison recalled.

The location is as unique as the home itself, Pfannkuch said, as it is within walking distance of Milford’s downtown area. The neighborhood also is fairly close-knit, Harrison said, pointing out that the house next to his was the home of Martha Tibbals, his father’s kindergarten teacher. After Charles’ wife died, he and Tibbals became close and eventually married.

Though Harrison will miss the house, he and Pfannkuch said they hope to find a new owner who will appreciate the residence and the neighborhood that surrounds it.

“It’s the kind of place where you don’t just live in the house, you live in the community,” Pfannkuch said.

Do you know of a house or apartment building with an interesting story? Contact acuda@ctpost.com, and the home could be featured in Habitat.

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