Faces of Milford
The Faces of Milford exhibit is our new and improved black history exhibit, featuring the stories and photos of black Milfordians throughout Milford’s history. This exhibit tells an untold story, highlighting the struggles and successes of these Milfordians throughout their lives, ranging from the Civil War to the decision of Brown vs the Board of Education, and into modern day.
In this exhibit you can learn about the Milford Eleven, the first group of black high school students who attempted to integrate Milford High School in 1954, as well as the Milford Seven, who were the first to successfully integrate Milford High School and graduate in 1965, and so many more people who made Milford’s community great.
A Look at Lou’s Bootery
A Look at Lou’s Bootery is a temporary exhibit that features artifacts from the locally iconic business of Lou’s Bootery. Located on 48 North Walnut Street, and opened in 1948, this historic cobbler’s shop remained a staple in the community for over a century, outfitting hundreds of local feet every year. Lou’s Bootery remained in business until 2015, upon the passing of Skip Pikus, the last cobbler to run the shop. The building was renamed to “The Pikus Building,” and still stands today as a realty office.
Then and Now
Our Then and Now Exhibit is a temporary exhibit that features the rapid change of technology through the last 150 years. Visitors can witness the progression of typical household objects from hairdryers to vacuum cleaners.
A feature of this exhibit is the Permanent Wave Machine, a contraption that many visitors have called terrifying. Come see it for yourself!
Did you know that the ladybug is Delaware’s state bug? This idea was conceived and developed by the 2nd grade class of Mollie Brown-Rust at Lulu M. Ross Elementary School in Milford, Delaware. One day, this class realized that Maryland had a state bug, but Delaware didn’t. The class decided it was high time that the State of Delaware picked one! They brainstormed together and eventually had to narrow down between three different insects; a cricket, a mosquito, or a ladybug. Thankfully, the ladybug won!
For nearly a year, the class worked together with members of the Delaware Legislature to introduce a bill to make the Ladybug Delaware's state bug. Their goal was reached on April 25, 1974 when the State House of Representatives unanimously approved Bill #667 following presentations by members of the class.
In 2011, Mollie and her husband decided to move to Florida. She generously donated her collection of over one hundred ladybug related items to the Museum. These colorful bugs are now hosted in the exhibit called “The Ladybug Room,” a fan favorite at the Milford Museum.
Believe it or not, shipbuilding was one of the largest industries in Milford. Shipbuilding began in Milford proper about 1782 when John Draper established a two-acre shipyard. John and his son, Alexander Draper, built about 22 ships between 1780 and 1809.
The abundance of white oak made Milford the prime shipbuilding hub in Southern Delaware, as the wood from the trees was the prime building material for ships in the 1700s. Skilled carpenters transformed these materials into gorgeous crafts of various sizes, making the Mispillion River a hub of maritime life.
This shipbuilding industry gave rise to South Milford. At one time there were seven yards in operation along the Mispillion River, which employed three quarters of the town’s population.
In the late 1800s, however, the method of transport was rapidly changing across the country. Of the seven shipyards, only one survived the transition from wood to steam. By 1930 the only shipyard still in operation was the Vinyard shipyard, built by Wilson Marvel Vinyard. During World War I, the Vinyard shipyard received government contracts to build three sub-chasers. They also built harbor tugs and Coast Guard patrol boats after the first World War.
During World War II, Vinyard built fourteen 110 foot sub-chasers and twelve navy patrol boats. Pleasure yachts built from 1927 to 1957 were the last and current focus of this yard which is now Milford's last remaining shipyard. Privately owned, the Vinyard Shipyard has been restored and remains functional to this day.
Thank You For Your Service
This exhibit is the largest permanent exhibit in the Milford Museum. As a “thank you” to all those who served in any branch of the American military, the Thank You For Your Service exhibit attempts to chronicle the lives of all Milfordians who served. Starting with the American Revolution with John Haslet, visitors can make their way through each war, up until modern day.
Thank You For Your Service includes memorabilia from different military eras, displaying uniforms, weapons, and other artifacts from different conflicts. Also on display are photographs, newspapers, and various paper documents. Visitors can also discover how Milfordians were affected by war at home.
For this exhibit, museum staff have created notebooks to include photographs and information about individuals who served in the military. These books encapsulate the legacy of the brave Milfordian men and women from all branches of service, even if they were not born and raised in Milford.