I didn’t expect to see a Norman Rockwell painting come to life in Pike County, Pa., but that’s exactly what I encountered.
The town of Milford, in particular, blanketed with a heavy and fresh coating of snow in January is beyond idyllic–brimming with life—a vibrant mix of history, architecture and contemporary life playing out on a busy main street and its arteries. I imagine that it must be even more picture perfect in spring.
In downtown Milford one can stroll a couple of blocks past homes and buildings that date back to the 1800s and find oneself in front of the current sheriff’s office—a rubble stone structure–where a man found guilty of killing his wife was hanged in 1897 when it was a jail. Farther down the street is a striking white-pillared building that’s known as The Columns. Here, in addition to vintage dresses, antique furnishings, Native American and war memorabilia is an item of national historical significance—an American flag, which according to local historians can be traced back to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. It is believed that a prominent stain on the stars and stripes is where the president lay bleeding after being shot by John Wilkes Booth. The Columns is also home to the Pike County Historical Society.
Architectural styles in this town (the county seat of Pike County) are a mix of Victorian styles (Gothic, Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne) as well as folk, eclectic and neo-classic. Most of the central business district is designated as a National Historic District with more than 50 structures bearing bronze plaques noting the year of construction and original owner.
On downtown Broad Street there are several restaurants, a diner, specialty shops such as a yarn store, day spas, a pastry and artisan bread shop, and handcrafted-gift shop. Galleries, antique, sweets and curiosity shops can be also be found nearby.
There’s too much to say about the historic and prestigious Hotel Fauchere, a 16-room beautifully restored property whose guestrooms offer such modern-day luxury touches as radiant-heated slate floors in the marble and Pennsylvania blue stone bathrooms, and a restaurant with superior culinary offerings. I was beyond surprised when I ventured to Bar Louis in the basement and felt transported into an ultra-contemporary New York City lounge. And the cocktails were as distinctive (and delicious, I might add) as the surroundings. I sampled the rather tame but tasty Fall Classic (sparkling cider, dark rum and cinnamon), but there are far more exotic offerings such as the Solstice Margarita made with jalapeno-infused platinum tequila. From the Delmonico dining room to the bar to the guest rooms, every corner of this hotel is designed and decorated in an aesthetically pleasing way and obviously with guest comfort in mind. I so wanted to turn my two-day stay into a weeklong experience.
Located 70 miles from New York City, Milford is a village with a population of approximately 1,200. It is situated along the Delaware River on the outskirts of the Delaware Watergap National Recreation Area, which is 7,000 preserved acres in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A wealth of outdoor experiences can be enjoyed here, including canoeing, kayaking, rafting, tubing and more. Hikers can tackle 27 miles of the Appalachian Trail here, too.
And that’s not all; Milford is surrounded by an abundance of waterfalls—Dingman Falls (75 feet), Shohola Falls and the 105-foot Raymondskill Falls.
Just a short drive outside of downtown Milford is Grey Towers, the former home of Gifford Pinchot, the first head of the U.S. Forest Service and twice governor of Pennsylvania. One can tour the first floor of the grand residence and its grounds with gardens, pools and a unique outdoor dining table with fingerbowls that float across the table.
If you go:
Hotel Fauchere, 401 Broad St., Milford, www.hotelfauchere.com. (507) 409-1351.
Grey Towers, 151 Grey Towers Drive, Milford. Grounds are open daily, guided tours daily Memorial Day weekend through the last weekend in October. Admission $3 to $6 and free for those younger than 12, firstname.lastname@example.org or call (570) 296-9630.
Delaware Watergap National Recreation Area. No park entrance fee, however, there are “expanded amenity fees” for access to areas such as the beaches. http://www.nps.gov/dewa/index.htm
The Columns, 608 Broad St., Milford. Open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. In July and August, open Wednesday through Sunday 1 to 4 p.m. Group tours available by appointment. Call (570) 296-8126 or visit www.pikecountyhistoricalsociety.org.