As the days turn into seasons and the seasons turn into years the majestic wonder of one’s own hometown can sometimes be lost. The cause may be a busy life or simply the repetitiveness of the same scenes day in and day out, but many times we fail to notice the beauty around us. In an effort to preserve the essence and beauty of her hometown of Milford, local artist April Abel has been busy capturing the warm, welcoming sights that symbolize Milford’s transformation from Spring to Summer.
“I believe that if you look differently, you will see differently,” commented Abel. “I have lived here for five years now. I wanted to photograph all aspects of the Riverwalk and see what it had to show me. By traveling much of the Riverwalk by foot this morning at dawn, I saw it differently than I have when I have traveled smaller segments. I think Milford has lots to offer, but sometimes those of us who live here overlook it.”
April earned her Bachelor of Arts in Media Arts at Wesley College. Introduced to the art form by Joseph Mullan, she was opened to a creative and expressive world that she had always hoped to experience but had not yet found entry into. In the spring of 2012, she set out to photograph the marshes and wildlife of central Delaware capturing images of the coastline, the sunrises and sunsets, and the migratory birds, otters, muskrat, and deer that make their home there. Abel has a gift of capturing the natural beauty of wildlife and places, that have over time become ordinary to others.
The downtown Riverwalk that Abel focused on in her recent photos, highlights the single most significant historical feature of the Milford community. Originally settling on the banks of the Mispillion River in 1680, Henry Bowan established what became known as Saw Mill Range on the Kent County side of the river. Approximately 100 years later Reverend Sydenham Thorne constructed a dam across the river to generate power and connected the Sussex County side. Although the city was not incorporated until 1807, as the first streets were laid out by John Oliver, the shipbuilding industry during the eighteenth century helped the community to grow exponentially. At one time Milford was home to seven ship building yards. In recent history the Vineyard Boat Yard was bought and restored by the present owners, Sudler and Joan Lofland, as it too became a symbol of restoring the maritime heritage as an attempt to revitalize the town.
The Mispillion Riverwalk, which stretches from Maple Street to Goat Island.
was built to showcase the beauty of the river and remind residents of its historical significance. The Mispillion River has taken on more significance in recent years as Downtown Milford, Inc. and the City of Milford has adopted the river into its branding; “River Town. Art Town. Home Town.” The river has been featured as centerpieces of downtown Milford festivals including the annual Bug & Bud Festival and the Riverwalk Freedom Festival.
Abel comments that her photos were not so much the Riverwalk itself but the fact that it winds through Milford and offers interesting vistas. “I wanted people to look at the Riverwalk differently too, I suppose,” commented Abel. “I so love living here. And if I can share that vision of this place once in a while, so much the better.”