Milford’s Emerson Park gets a facelift

MILFORD – Bob Courage has been fond of Emerson Park ever since the 1960s, when his construction company did most of the site work, including landscaping and paving, for what was then a new Milford park.

After he became director of the town public works department his crews cut the lawn and otherwise cared for the park

Now Courage is retired, and he and Lorraine Carson are the Emerson Park “committee of two” – volunteers who recently saw to the installation of new steps, railings and paved pathways.

They only meet once a year and their budget is very limited.

But with $7,000 each from the Kaley and Keyes trust funds and with the help of the Milford Garden Club, which tends all the flowers, and the town public works department, which did much of the labor, they have given the park a needed facelift.

And Rick Riendeau, head of the DPW, has developed wheelchair-accessible paths leading from the park to the nearby Masonic lodge.

The project was started about a year ago, because the steps that lead to the park from Mont Vernon Street were deteriorating and seemed unsafe.

“We started to get complaints. You had to be very careful” walking down the steps, Carson said.

The property was owned by the Emerson family, which owned property on the other side of the river and wanted to provide access to that property in case of fire. So they built a granite ledge over the river bank for a fire truck. The platform is still there.

Charles Emerson presented the town with the 1.29 acres in 1947 as a gift from his brother, Harry.

Twenty years later, said Courage, there was talk of turning the property into a downtown parking lot, but it became a park instead.

Mildred Hoadley, chairwoman of the Emerson Park Committee, was the moving force behind the effort and the committee raised private funds to buy plants, trees and scrubs and create a pleasant park.

“Mildred was a fireball – she could get things done,” Courage said.

Courage’s company, Souhegan Valley Paving Corp., did the filling and grading of the land, Barretto Granite donated granite that was built into a 150-foot long stone wall. Medlyn Monument cut the stone boulder that stands at the foot of the steps and also cut the granite marker erected along the stone wall. Auctioneer Ted Langdell donated the millstone that is used as a table in the park.

The park is located between the post office and the Souhegan River and is the setting for the annual Sounds on the Souhegan summer concert series.

Volunteer labor, especially the work of the Milford Garden Club, continues to keep the park beautiful.

According to the town history, Charles Emerson was a self-made man who greeted people on the street with a cheery “Good Morning” no matter what time of day.

He owned a shop on South Street and on hot summer days he served his customers cold lemonade.

“Proud of Milford, Mr. Emerson promoted and sold bedroom furniture made by Milford’s French & Heald Company,” and though he never owned a car, bought the first delivery truck in Milford, according to “The Granite Town.”

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