Milford in the 20th Century – New Book Project

November 9, 2012

The Milford Historical Society has as its mission to collect, preserve and share the history of Milford, Michigan. Recently the Society announced plans to create a New Book about the history of Milford. The Society has already published one book – “Ten Minutes Ahead of the Rest of the World” – which was completed in 1978 and focused mainly on the founding and growth of Milford, Michigan in the 19th Century, from the first settlers in the 1830’s up to the early years of the 1900’s.

The new book, which is being researched and written under the working title “Milford in the 20th Century”, will focus upon the history of the Milford area (Village and Township) from 1901 until 2000. The Milford Historical Society is calling for local area residents to share pictures, stories, memorabilia and other things that might contribute to understanding the history of Milford during that time fame.  The framework of the book is organized initially around the decades of the twentieth century and will place the history of events in Milford within the context of what was going on in the world at the time. It is particularly important to find old pictures that show how Milford looked in each decade or which document significant events in Milford’s history and long lost buildings or venues.

There are places long gone that existed during this era, such as the old Milford High School, many of the Mills of Milford (which were all demolished during this era), the Milford Hotel and Movie House. There are also great stories about the days when Milford used to host the Oakland County Fair and when there was horse racing and car racing in Milford. We need to capture and document all of that. There were places that had nick-names like Little Egypt and Baby Town that we want to understand and share the stories of for future generations.

There are events that occurred in Milford that reflect how the local scene was impacted by the larger context of what was going on in the world, like the WPA sidewalk project during the Depression that brought work and new sidewalks to many Milford streets. There was the creation of the General Motors Proving Ground that was cobbled together out of many Milford and Brighton Farms. Of course there was the Ford Carburetor Plant in Milford, a part of the Ford Village Industries program that Henry Ford initiated early in the 20th century. Milford had many other manufacturing companies in the early part of the century that are all long gone. We’d like to document them.

Life and lifestyles changed quite a bit during this time span, too; and we’d like to understand and share those changes. The impacts of the railroad and the automobile were profound on Milford and the lifestyles of the Milford residents. Tell us stories about that and maybe share pictures. Several churches in the area grew and moved about during this century, we’d like to hear about that, too. Several school building came and went during this timeframe, if you have any picture and stories. Let us know. Although many of the building remained in place, there were changes to the downtown as stores came and went. There were car dealerships and drug stores and grocery stores on North Main Street at one time. Do you have pictures or stories about them? The train used to stop in Milford; do you have pictures from the old train station?

It is our hope that we can find and preserve as much of the photographic history of Milford in the 20th Century as possible and also capture and preserve the oral history that many life-long Milford residents have about this era. We will be drawing quite a bit of our research from our own archives, but we have only collected a very small portion of the items that likely exist in our community to document Milford in the 20th Century.

You may call or email to discuss what you can contribute. Call the Museum at 248-685-7308 and speak to the Museum Staff or leave a message with your name and a phone number,  if no one answers. We’ll get back to you as quickly as we can. You can also email us at . If you have scanned images of pictures or a written story about Milford during this time span you can attach it to the email. If you have only the original picture of something, we’ll arrange to get it scanned into a digital image and document what the picture is about and then give it back to you (unless you wish to donate it to the Museum). Our hope is to spend the next two years collecting and documenting the history of Milford during this era and then get the new book published sometime in 2015. Please help.