On Sunday, December 15, the Milford Museum held their annual Holiday Open House, offering visitors information about Milford history along with refreshments and a chance to hear about the town from noted Milford historians. The event was attended by several Milford Museum commissioners, as well as State Representative Harvey Kenton.
“I have always been a huge supporter of the Milford Museum, and am pleased that I am able to help with grants and other funding that keep the history of this great town alive,” said Representative Kenton. “I grew up in this town and love to see the many items on display in the museum, many of which bring back some memories for me.”
In addition to sharing information on Milford history, many of those in attendance remembered Sam Marshall, who passed away on Friday, December 13, this year. Mr. Marshall was a strong supporter of the Milford Museum. Mr. Marshall, the son of Dr. Samuel Marshall and the grandson of Mary Louise Donnell Marshall, who created the first hospital in Milford, was also a member of the Milford Historical Society, and the first chairman of the City of Milford Commission of Landmarks and Museums. His support was instrumental in the Milford Museum obtaining the former post office building in Milford where the museum is located today.
“Much of what we do here at the museum can be attributed to Sam and his support,” said Milford historian, Dave Kenton. “I know there are many of those present today who have a few stories they can tell about Sam.” Representative Kenton remembered Mr. Marshall as the president of Milford Trust Company.
“There are very few of us here who didn’t talk to Sam when it was time to get a car loan or our first mortgage,” Representative Kenton laughed.
The Milford Museum, located at the corner where Causey Avenue, Walnut Street and Southeast Second Street connect, housed the Milford Post Office until 1962. After the post office moved, the State of Delaware used the facility as a public health clinic, and when the lease for those services ended after 20 years, the state passed legislation in 1982 transferring ownership of the building to the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. The legislation also stipulated that the City of Milford could lease the building for one dollar per year for use as a public museum.
In 1982, the Milford Commission of Landmarks and Museums was established by the city with Sam Marshall as chairman, authorizing them to collect items of suitable interest for display. The commissioners, who serve on a volunteer basis, are responsible for developing exhibit ideas and assisting in the day-to-day operation of the museum.
There are five permanent display galleries and one changing exhibit gallery in the museum. The permanent displays include The Doll Room, which displays the antique doll collection of Zelma Nicholas, as well as information about the Kewpie dolls created in Milford after a local munitions factory was converted into a doll factory. There is also a silver and ladybug room containing the Myra Kennedy silver collection and the ladybug collection of Molly Brown Rust.
A library in the museum, named for noted Milfordian, E. Millis Hurley, contains hundreds of books on the history of Milford and Delaware, as well as the extensive Civil War exhibit containing weapons and other artifacts from the war.
Currently on display is the Christmas Holiday collection in the Katherine Holcomb Downing gallery, featuring an antique carriage and other Christmas artifacts. The Samuel Marshall gallery contains many historic items related to Milford history, including the mail sorting table used by Roscoe Hitch for more than 30 years to sort mail for Milford’s Route 1.
The Milford Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am until 3:30pm and on Sunday from 1pm until 3:30pm. They are closed on Monday. There is no admission fee for the museum, although donations are always welcome. In addition, the museum offers several historic books, maps, DVDs and other items for sale.