The Memorial Bridge, across the Wepawaug River along today’s New Haven Avenue, was built as part of Milford’s 250th anniversary celebration. The bridge features a tower and 29 stones inscribed with the names of local settlers, as well as an eclectic collection of local artifacts.
The bridge’s north and south copings are marked with large pink granite stones inscribed with the name of an original settler, as well as the name of his wife and date of his death.
Next to the doorway leading into the 29-foot tower is a large stone inscribed with a dedication to Robert Treat, an early Milford settler who served as governor of the Connecticut colony. A later governor, Jonathan Law, is honored with a stone (the former doorstep of his home) on the bridge’s north coping.
The front entrance also honors the area’s original settlers from the Wepawaug nation with a stylized Native American portrait over the doorway and a representation of the mark by which Ansantawae, the nation’s sachem, signed the deed for the purchase of Milford.
On the doorway, a knocker was taken from the front door of a home with a porch from which George Whitfield, a founder of the Plymouth Church, preached. The doorway also features the hanger for a lantern that has been lost over the years.
A stone just north of the bridge tower honors Milford police officer Daniel S. Wasson, who was killed in the line of duty in 1987 during a late-night traffic stop.
Local officials commissioned the bridge in 1889 to honor Milford’s original settlers, in part because the settlers’ final resting places aren’t known. As settlers passed away, they were buried in what would become Milford Cemetery. Those graves were either unmarked, or marked with wooden headstones that were eventually lost to time.
A hundred years later, officials marking the city’s 350th anniversary erected a plaque listing the names of early settlers who had been omitted from the bridge.