News

Old Milford schoolhouse to be torn down

Thursday, May 1, 2014

By KATHY CLEVELAND

Staff Writer

MILFORD – One of the last of Milford’s neighborhood schoolhouses will soon be torn down to make way for a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot.

The old Pine Valley School building on Elm St. was most recently a barbecue restaurant. In the early 2000s, it was extensively renovated and became the Santos Dumont coffee house.

Last November, the Milford Planning Board gave Dunkin’ Donuts’ owner Carlos Andrade approval to expand his parking lot at 764 Elm St. and extend the drive-thru onto the neighboring property. The Milford Planning Department expects to receive a request for a demolition permit soon.

The Milford Heritage Commission is resigned to the demolition, said Chairman Chuck Worcester, who said he regrets that “another beautiful building will be gone.”

“We tried to interest someone in moving the building, but nothing came of it,” he said.

Worcester said commission members approached Andrade and asked if he could find some other use for the building or relocate it, but that turned out not to be practical.

When the Planning Board approved a site plan from Dunkin’ Donuts last November, Gary Balcom, who owns a landscaping business abutting the school house, told the board he was willing and able to move the building onto his property, according to meeting minutes.

Worcester said in economic terms, it would cost more to move than it’s worth to move, but it has aesthetic value and “we hate to see it gone … it sets the tone of Elm Street.”

“Obviously, we think it’s a loss to Milford,” he said, especially since it will become a parking lot.

Dunkin’ Donuts purchased the schoolhouse lot at 770 Elm St. because of a need to expand the water system, said Worcester, and then realized it would provide an opportunity to expand the business’ access. Also, the old school house blocks the view of Dunkin’ Donuts from the west.

Around 2003, the building was renovated and became the Santos Dumont coffee shop, named after a pioneering aviator. There was a replica of an old aircraft on the ceiling.

Polly Cote, of the Milford Historical Society, said the building was built as a schoolhouse, one of six Milford schoolhouses, where young children went through sixth grade. From there, they attended the village schools.

The other two existing school house buildings are North River Road at River Lea Road and the Laurel School in East Milford. Gone are Shedd School, Osgood School and Federal Hill School.

Fire Chief Jack Kelly said the Milford Fire Department was planning to use the building for a practice burn, but there is utility equipment in the rear.

Worcester said he thinks it was the third or fourth school house on the site and was built in the early 1900s of cut lumber and nails and “not as old as we first anticipated.”

Lyndeborough Selectman Lee Mayhew said the building was still a schoolhouse when he was dating his wife, around 1961.

Dunkin’ Donuts owner Andrade couldn’t be reached for comment.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@
cabinet.com.

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