NEW MILFORD CT
New Milford Bandstand
New Milford Town Green
Built - 1891
The town of New Milford could be used as a perfect backdrop for one of Norman Rockwell's paintings due to its quaint, small town atmosphere with its specialty and antique stores on Main Street, historic buildings and a large town green. The town once did serve as the hub for outer-lying rural communities due to its location on the Housatonic River in Western Connecticut.
New Milford was incorporated in 1712 and maintains its historical tradition with village arts and crafts fairs, parades, fireworks, community theatre, caroling during the Christmas season, and bandstand concerts on its octagonal bandstand built in 1891. The structure has long been the town's pet symbol since it has withstood the test of time even though it has hosted many hundreds of concerts over the years on New England's longest village green. Local residents and celebrities Skitch Henderson and Leopold Strokowski both have conducted from the structure.
The New Milford Bandstand is the second one on the common, the first a smaller "cornet bandstand" built in 1875, which served mainly as sleeping quarters for weary midnight revelers. Merritt Beach & Son built the present bandstand for $30 which was repainted in 1897 for $24 born by the town band and repaired in 1931 when the bandstand turned 40 for $500 of which was voted upon at a town meeting. The structure was restored again in 1976 and underwritten by the Rotary Club and in 1988 when a car lost control and ran underneath the structure, damaging one of its supports costing the town $9,000.
The bandstand has withstood some serious situations in its long history. It was spared during 1902 when a fire wiped out much of the downtown area west of the green. At that time, the bandstand was closed in and used by the LaHait & Garvey Barbershop until the buildings on Bank Street could be rebuilt and other temporary structures were built with the area of the Green then known as "Shantytown." Also in recent years, the structure has been subject to vandalism with town officials threatening to close it off with chains however, a nightly police officer has patrolled the area so this problem has subsided.
The bandstand has served as not only a platform for some of the best musicians in the area, but also as a rallying point, political stage, recruiting booth, storehouse and as a barbershop as stated. It was used as a model for a painting on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post and as a background for a Double Mint Chewing Gum commercial on television in 1973 and a backdrop once again for the movie, "Mr. Deeds" in 2001. The bandstand was used continuously during the summer months with a quarter of a century lapse from 1950 to 1975.
The bandstand's unique features include its octagonal steep roof, cornet-style, with key diamonds above lattice work and ornamental scrolls by its roof.