News Column

One of Milford's oldest houses often overlooked

August 29, 2014

By Ebony Walmsley, New Haven Register, Conn.

Aug. 29--MILFORD -- About a block from the Green sits a building full of history that might be overlooked.

The Eells-Stow House is one of the city's oldest and is named after two families that lived there many years.

The property on then-Wharf Lane overlooking Milford Harbor was owned by Samuel Eells.

Eells was a "plant-after." That was someone who came to town between 1640 and 1700, who had to prove he wouldn't be a burden to the community before acquiring the property, said Ardienne Damicis, a member of the Milford Historical Society.

The nonprofit society owns the house, which is one of three historic buildings at 34 High St.

Eells lived in the house with his wife until she died; it was later inherited by his son, Col. Samuel Eells, who was active in town and New Haven County.

Eventually, Eells' son sold the property to his brother-in-law, Stephen Stow.

Stow, a schooner captain, was married to Freelove Baldwin. The couple had six sons and a daughter.

Stow died in 1777 after weeks of trying to save 200 prisoners of war, brought to the harbor on a British prison ship. They were suffering from smallpox.

Four of Stow's sons were veterans of Revolutionary War.

The historic house was saved from destruction in 1930 by a chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Damicis said it has seen its share of renovations. For example, the clapboards, sheathing, window frames and sashes were removed, revealing the basic structure of the framing.

Despite its convenient location to downtown, Damicis said not many people know about the house.

"Parents come with their kids and I hear, 'Oh, I had no idea this was here,'" Damicis said.

The house furnishings include a Carver chair, which dates back to the 17th century and guarantees the sitter has a straight back; and a table belonging to Stow's granddaughter, Damicis said.

Other buildings in the historic complex are the 1785 Bryan-Downs House, with the Claude C. Coffin Indian artifact collection, and the 1780 Clark-Stockade House, believed to be the first building constructed outside of the protective town walls, or stockade.

The Milford Historical Society gives tours of the houses every weekend, 1-4 p.m.June 1 to Columbus Day weekend. They are also available for school tours in spring and fall.

The society asks visitors for a $5 donation. To find out more about tours, call 203-874-2664.

Call Ebony Walmsley at 203-789-5734. Have questions, feedback or ideas about our news coverage? Connect directly with the editors of the New Haven Register at


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Source: New Haven Register (CT)

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