HISTORY OF MILFORD HIGH SCHOOL
Milford High school was founded in 1842 following an act of the State Legislature that allowed communities to establish a school of higher learning and to appropriate money for its support. It accepted students not only from Milford, but also from surrounding settlements.
In 1874, Milford Board of Education successfully proposed to join the Milford High School building with its neighbors, the Town Hall and the former Baptist Church.
Photo Credit ONLY IN MILFORD (An Illustrated History)
By 1890, addition of connecting rooms accommodated a growing student population. These new high school quarters shared space with governmental offices, a grade school, jail facilities, and the G. A. R. room (a large meeting room that was later used as a theater). This extensive and splendid building known as "Old Town Hall" was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1915.
Photo Credit ONLY IN MILFORD (An Illustrated History)
An architectural marvel, the "Yellow Brick Building" erected in 1908 on land once home to an inn/tavern (known to have been frequented by George Washington) served as quarters for Milford High School until graduation of the class of 1951. Initially, this central school building housed not only the high school, but also grades 1-8. Milford High School classes were assigned to four rooms on the third floor. An assembly room was used for study periods.
Gradually several elementary schools were built throughout town to accommodate younger children and "The Yellow Brick Building" housed only grades 9-12. By mid 1930s, it was evident enrollment would continue to escalate and high school students would require larger quarters. However, growing political unrest in Europe that escalated into WWII and subsequent war effort restrictions made it impossible to even consider construction of any new school buildings. Eventually, cramped Milford High School was forced to go on double sessions. Upon conclusion of hostilities, city fathers and the Board of Education collaborated to construct a new high school building. (Yellow Building Picture Credit - Ann Weizel)
|Many thanks to Dora Kubek ('73) for this picture submission of a 1948 architectural drawing of the coming "new" Milford High School building in Milford. It's currently (March 2018) hanging at the high school, aka Parson's Complex, along with other pieces including those of the high school on the walls in a colorful display. Another view, signed by the architect, below. Dora also noted that the architect labeled the school, MILFORD * CENTRAL * HIGH * SCHOOL. Anyone know why?
Construction of a new Milford High School building began in 1949 and was completed to accept students in September 1951. STATE-OF-THE-ART IN CONCEPT, DESIGN, AND STRUCTURE, it offered students a greatly expanded course of study. All departments were enhanced and every effort made to provide a modern, comprehensive high school experience that would meet the need of all students whatever their interests. The MHS senior class of 1951 was the last group of students to spend their complete high school career in "The Yellow Building."
Although officially renamed "The Diane Toulson Building" sometime in 1950s, it affectionately became known as "Old Milford High School." For a number of years it served as part children's library and part overflow home of Central Grammar School. Eventually and into the 1970s it served as a Milford High School annex when crowded conditions again necessitated space for an ever-increasing student population. When Central Grammar School moved to its current site (Harborside Middle School) for the 1969-1970 school year, Milford High began having classes in the old Central Grammar School building, too.
Back to the Yellow Building, it is still a formidable edifice. The building has been completely remodeled and is currently known as River Park Apartments (an affordable residential alternative). After a multi-year renovation, River Park opened in 1993, and is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018.
Meanwhile, in 1951, the new high school's 1500-seat auditorium was completed just in time for seniors of '51 to use it for graduation ceremonies. Students of the class of 1952 were the first to graduate after attending classes in this new building for a full school years. September 1951's incoming Freshmen are forever distinguished as members of the first class to complete all four years of study in Milford's ultra-modern and nontraditional setting. Unfortunately by their graduation in 1955 this impressive structure had reached capacity. Once thought to be large enough to accommodate students in grades 9-12 for decades, by 1958 it was necessary to hold some classes in the "Yellow Building" again and in 1959 Milford High School was again forced to go on double session.
Additional secondary schools of learning were built to accommodate an ever-increasing teen population. Jonathan Law High School was opened in the early 1960s in the west shore district, easing the Milford High School overcrowing. However, it didn't last long as the MHS Class of 1973 numbered in excess of 475 and became the largest graduating class of in history, until the Class of 1974 with its 517 graduates.
Educators opened Joseph A. Foran High School in the east shore district in the 1973-74 school year with freshmen, sophomores and juniors only, which considerably eased the crowded conditions at Milford High School.
But by 1980, however, declining pupil population made it evident that Milford no longer needed three high schools. Therefore, after 141 years, Milford High school was phased out and the building closed upon graduation of the class of 1983.
The building underwent major renovation and emerged some time later as "The Parsons Government Center." Home to many city governmental departments, The Parsons Center also serves as a consolidated base for Milford Board of Education offices that had previously been housed at scattered sites throughout the city. Its gymnasium continues to be used for Department of Recreation activities; many groups utilize its auditorium as a cultural venue.
According to Richard N. Platt, Class of '51 and former City Historian, Milford High School once used a generic Alma Mater published in a book of marches. However, it did not contain the name of a specific school. Therefore, Fred Bayers composed words and music for an official Milford High School Alma Mater:
MHS ALMA MATER by Fred W. Bayers
Raise we now our joyful voices, Laud and honor to thy name;
We give thanks for all thy blessings, and thy greatness we proclaim.
Milford High, our Alma Mater, honored name we all adore;
Loyalty and true devotion, pledge we now forever more.
In the recent past, Dick Platt contacted band directors associated with MHS, Law and Foran high schools in an effort to locate the words and music of the generic alma mater once used by Milford High School. Meanwhile, he shared the words knowing his memory was not 100% accurate.
Dick's persistence eventually paid off, aided in the computer age via an Internet seach. He located words to the generic alma mater once used.
WE HAVE SHEET MUSIC WITH "BAND PARTS FOR BOTH ALMA MATERS AND AN ORCHESTERAL RECORDING OF THE GENERIC SONG USED PRE 1951.
BOOSTING THE OLD HIGH SCHOOL
(WORDS BY WARD WILKES ... MUSIC BY VINCENT ENGELDINGER)
Faithful and true hearted, we will cheer our dear old high.
We revere her and defend her, may her colors proudly fly.
We will stand for her united, of her deeds we'll proudly tell,
Her colors streaming, glad faces beaming,
So here's a cheer for her, for her we love so well.
Joyous and ever loyal, let us boost for our dear old high,
Let every heart sing, let every voice ring,
There's no time to grieve or sigh.
It's ever onward our course pursuing,
May defeat ne'er our ardor cool.
But united we will boost for her,
our OLD HIGH SCHOOL.
Milford High School All-Class Reunions held in 1983, 1993, 2003, 2008 and 2013 celebrated the spirit and the long and impressive history of this city institution. Net proceeds from all the reunions are donated into the MHS Scholarship Fund, also named in memory of 1933 grad Jim Rose, who helped pioneer the all-class concept. The scholarships are awarded on an annual basis to graduating seniors of Jonathan Law and Joseph Foran high schools.