The residents of Milton and visitors coming to the Garden Tour today (October 1) were treated to a surprise – the advance opening of the Suburban Farmhouse at 108 Federal Street at the former location of the Federal Street Gallery and Espresso Bar, with a novel take on the coffee house business. The first few reviews on the Suburban Farmhouse Facebook page are enthusiastic, and we wholeheartedly welcome the new business and wish them great success.
Like nearly all of the businesses in Milton’s downtown area, the Suburban Farmhouse occupies a historic building, a solid brick structure completed in 1901 for the Milton branch of a Lewes bank- the Sussex Trust, Title and Safe Deposit Co. Much of the history of the building’s construction was informally documented by resident correspondent David A. Conner in his weekly Milton News letter, published in the Milford Chronicle. Transcriptions of these articles can be found in the following links within this blog:
October 4, 1901 – Contract to construct the bank building awarded to Isaac Nailor
October 11, 1901 – Beardsley and Lofland will supply bricks for the new building
October 18, 1901 – Isaac Nailor is excavating the building site and laying brick
October 25, 1901 – Isaac Nailor muses on the shortage of bricklayers
November 15, 1901 – Brick work completed
November 29, 1901 – Arrival of slate and entablature
December 6, 1901 – Slate placed on the roof of the building
December 13, 1901 – Construction approaching completion
December 20, 1901 – Entablature placed on the building
December 27, 1901 – Stockholders and directors meeting held
The bank was ready for business on January 1, 1910.
What is striking about these mentions in the press is the compressed time line. From ground breaking to ready for occupancy, the construction took barely two and a half months, in spite of a dearth of bricklayers.
The bank building was the only structure to survive the disastrous fire of August 12, 1909 – a conflagration that destroyed the entire downtown business district from Union Street at the Broadkill River down to Front Street, and along Federal Street. Dr. Douglas took another of iconic Milton photograph (below) that documented the aftermath of the 1909 fire. The bank building can clearly be seen at left, unscathed, behind the rubble. The steeple of the old Goshen Methodist Episcopal Church rises just beyond the bank building.