Clark W. Wilcox
- Written by Joseph B. Barnes, Esq.
Donated Park to Milford
A son of Capt. John W. Wilcox and Anna M. Davidson Wilcox of Milford, Clark Wilcox had roots here at least back to the revolutionary war. He removed to Brooklyn, NY in 1876. There he got involved in the hat industry. He developed a huge business in clothing Wilcox's Millinery, 109 - 111 Myrtle Ave and bridge street in Brooklyn, NY (roughly today's site of the NYU Polytechnic School of engineering) with a 20,000 square foot building for manufacturing, warehouse with 163 linear feet of retail space.
Clark ran Wilcox's Millinery House as president with two of his three surviving siblings (of 5), Lorren (VP), and George (Sec./Treas.). Boasting "the Best Hats in New York" his advertised prices ranged (in 1903) from School hats at 15 cents to fancy straw and chiffon hats priced at $2.98 to $4.98, marked down from the kingly sum of $7.98 to $9.98. Their ad in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle priced his goods two to five times higher than rival Milkman's Millinery of Fulton Street whose ad was often posted right next to his. Clearly Wilcox had cornered the "luxury hat" market in Brooklyn.
Wilcox's success was good news for Milford as Clark Wilcox, who summered at Walnut Beach, became a great benefactor of the Village of Milford. After 33 years building his fortune in New York, he decided to return to Milford. Actually, with some considerable thought toward finality, he had decided some time back to return here permanently as way back in 1894 he bought his burial plot in Milford Cemetery!
Wealthy Clark Wilcox owned many properties by purchase or inheritance around town: 17 acres on the Housatonic; 38 lots in "Westfield"; land on the today's Harborside Drive facing Wilcox Park which he, and then his estate, sold off as residential lots; a large area of land between Old Field Lane and the Indian River "gulf" which he sold to George Wilcox in 1913 (some of it was a golf course until purchased for residential development in today's Wilcox Road area); and Land on High Street, corner of Broad, that eventually became Cody-White Funeral Home and northward across the railway tracks, the seed company headquarters of Everett Clark later 'Asgrow.'
Returning permanently to Milford, in July 1909 he purchased 10 acres to build a $30,000 "cottage" on Welch's Point Road. Today the "cottage," "Eveningside Mansion," (later owned by the Stuart family, saved by Joseph H. Blichfeldt and now occupied by sports radio personality Dan Patrick) is worth over $2.5 Millions and pays one of Milford's top ten highest property tax rates. In December '09 Wilcox added the waterside land west of the "new road on the bluff" (Gulf Street extension from Old Field La. to the terminus of previously dead ending Welch's Point Road) from the Merwin and Gunn families to be kept forever without construction of house or barn under penalty of forfeiture. Use of this land would be a development controversy in the 1990s. Apparently a "bath house" was not a violation, so through the teens, twenties and thirties, parties were held there and on the lawns overlooking Charles island. Eventually the sound claimed the "lawns" leaving the party "Summer house" perched on the very edge of the cliff today.
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