History of Santa House in Milford

by Terry Rogers

a house covered in snow

This Santa Claus house stood in Milford after it was built by Al Humes in 1939. (Photo courtesy of the Humes family)

With the Christmas season underway and kids lining up to offer Christmas greetings to Santa, now is a great time to remember Santa’s homes in Milford from yesteryear. Around 1939, Al Humes, owner of Humes Hardware, built a small house specially designed for Santa Claus in downtown Milford. The house was known as the “Storybook House” and looked like a gingerbread house. It was installed in the Plaza, opposite the current location of the City of Milford Customer Service Office and the Temple of the Love of Jesus. The house was surrounded by a fence and there were evergreens, a sleigh, and a sign indicating when Santa Claus took requests. It is not known when this Santa Claus house was taken.

For many years this house was located behind Gooden’s Flower Shop on North Walnut Street. Recently, the building was sold to an individual who moved it into his property.

In 1984 or 1985, John Eustis, who was president of the Milford Plaza Merchants Association, decided that the Plaza needed a home for Santa Claus. It is not known if the association bought a shed or if the shelter was built by members, but it was placed in a vacant area between where Ames and Leggett’s were located at the time. Today, the Ames department store has been split into several different stores, while a furniture store is now operating in the old Leggett’s building.

“I hired a Santa, Bill Dillinger, who was awesome with the kids,” Mr. Eustis said. “We had entertainment when he was there. We had the Milford High School Jazz Band, other local bands that sang Christmas carols. Mr Eustis said Santa’s house in the Plaza came to an end when Mr Dillinger passed away suddenly. Shortly after, Mr Eustis said he believed downtown merchants had taken over the Santa House project, moving it to Walnut Street.

Many longtime residents of Milford and the surrounding area remember other Christmas traditions in the city center when they were young.

“My best Christmas memory when I was young was the Coffman-Fisher store on the northwest corner of North Walnut and the River,” said Carolyn Humes. “After Thanksgiving, they decorated their second floor with a Christmas toy. We have never seen so many toys! I’m sure there was also a Santa Claus. It was a children’s paradise and a wonderful experience.

Barbara Jones of the Milford Museum recalled that there were choirs and bands performing in a vacant lot on Walnut Street before the expansion of WT Grants. Today, it is in this area that the offices of Davis, Bowen & Friedel are located. Ms Jones said much of the holiday celebrations downtown took place in churches, many of which had cantatas and Christmas Eve services that were well attended each year.

“My memory of Christmas in Milford is one of a city center packed with shoppers,” said Marvin Schelhouse. “I believe I was 15 and worked part-time at JC Penney’s as a saleswoman and on Saturdays just before Christmas Penney’s was full of customers like every other store. It was in the 1950s and it was a happy time. There were appliance stores, shoe stores, two or three women’s fashion stores. You can buy Christmas cards at the drugstore or enjoy a milkshake. At the time, Christmas was probably the biggest event in downtown Milford. Randy Warnick, who grew up in Greenwood, also remembers shopping in Milford at A&P, Woolworth’s, Grants and Penney’s during the Christmas season.

According to Charles Gray of the Milford Community Parade, in the 1990s it was decided to have a Christmas parade in Milford because almost every town in the area had one.

“I think it was Owen Brooks who mentioned that he would like to see one in Milford,” Gray said. “Milford Community Parade ran one for three years and tried to make it stand out. It took place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving without commercial floats. I believe the church consortium was on the committee, as was City Councilor Katrina Wilson. We had horse-drawn carriages, chariots created by churches and the participants voted for who had the best chariot. We didn’t have Santa Claus in the parade. Mr Gray said the parade walked the Riverwalk to Bicentennial Park where a choir sang Christmas carols. Church attendance declined and the Saturday after Thanksgiving saw low attendance, so the decision was made to end the parade.

Mr Gray explained that the parade was held at night so that people watching could take advantage of the Christmas lights downtown. He mentioned that he would be interested in creating an exploratory committee to bring the parade back, possibly combining the parade with the arrival of Santa Claus downtown on Small Business Saturday, which takes place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Source link

About Paul Cox

Check Also

Edgartown: What a welcome gift

Hooray, hooray, May Day. I sit down to begin this week’s column after an incredibly …