The Pillsbury Bandstand

The Pillsbury Bandstand

In the mid-1890s, the Milford Cornet Band had gotten tired of sitting on settees when performing in the Oval. What they really needed was a bandstand. And since one of their members was a member of the Town Improvement Society, they knew just what to do. An extensive Fourth of July event was planned to raise the money, complete with clam dinner, picnic, baseball game and parade. The Nashua nine was invited to town to square off with the local baseball club and the Milford boys put on their fresh new white uniforms while the clams made it to town just in time. Then the rains came. A day-long downpour made the crowd so sparse that they could barely pay off the clams. But then a wealthy Milford native would save the day with a few clams of his own.

Albert E. Pillsbury was a lawyer, State Senator, Massachusetts Attorney General, Milford native, Boston resident and, perhaps most importantly for this story — a lover of music. Reading about the failure of the fundraiser, Pillsbury wrote in to put up the money himself, telling the town, “Go ahead and build the bandstand and send the bill to me.”

And so, they did just that.

The Pillsbury Bandstand would immediately become a symbol of the town, drawing thousands of spectators to Union Square for concerts in the early days. On the day of the dedication, August 15, 1896, nearly the entire town turned out. Horse and buggies from all over the region flooded into the Oval, causing more than a little traffic. The Milford Cabinet reported that “Conductor Vittum had made a special effort to give a good concert and some of the pieces were loudly encored.” And sothey have been ever since.

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