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A Look at the Past and Present of Guilford Town Green

Photo of Guilford Town Green

Many communities along the Connecticut Shoreline have a Town Green, which is essentially a park in the center of town. Historically, however, a Town Green was incredibly important, as it acted as a focal point for the municipality, giving residents a place to congregate and businesses a location to establish themselves.


Guilford Town Green is one of the oldest in the United States, as it emerged in 1639, soon after the area’s settlement by members of the Connecticut Colony. The Town Green has been the center of life in Guilford ever since those early days, and today remains an essential component in this town of about 22,000.


Here’s what you should know about the Town Green and how it will fit into your life when you buy a home in Guilford, Connecticut.


Guilford Town Green’s Historic Churches


One of the first things you’ll notice as you approach Guilford Town Green is that there are churches everywhere. In fact, there are four churches on the streets surrounding the park, each with a unique story to tell.


The oldest of the bunch is the First Congregational Church, which is a striking white building to the north of the Green. The congregation dates back to 1643, although the construction of this particular building occurred in 1830. The first edition of the church was a small stone building, while the second was constructed on the Green itself and, therefore, had to be removed.


To the east of the Town Green is the Christ Episcopal Church, which is set in a stone Gothic-Revival building. This particular congregation established itself in 1744, but, much like the First Congregational Church, its original building was on the Green and had to be demolished. The current building was completed in 1838 and has remained there ever since.


Also east of the Green is the First Church of Christ Science, which hosts services in a building from 1850 that was first used by a group of abolitionists who separated from First Congregational Church before the American Civil War. The First Church of Christ Science has occupied the building since 1951.


On the west side of the Green is the St. George Catholic Church. While this congregation has been around since 1860, its current building opened in 1962, making it by far the newest church overlooking Guilford Town Green. An earlier Catholic church building burned down to the ground in the 1850s, perhaps on purpose as anti-immigration sentiment grew in the region.


Countless Restaurants and Shops


Since Guilford Town Green has long been a commercial center in the community, it makes sense that restaurants and shops would line the park.


The southwest side of the Green is full of restaurants in an area called Whitfield Village. This strip mall has parking both on the street in front of it and in a large lot out back, making it highly accessible. Restaurants in Whitfield Village include the South Lane Bistro, Centro Pizza, and the Marketplace at Guilford Food Center, which is also a grocery store, butcher shop, and bakery.


Whitfield Village also houses numerous shops, including Breakwater Books, Lulu’s, and Flutterby. There’s a Page Taft office on the corner of Whitfield Street and Water Street, too.


South of the Green is an area with some shops set in historic houses. These stores include Page Hardware, Frank’s Packaging Store, and Vera Wolf, in addition to a bank and an art gallery.


East of the Green is mostly government buildings and churches, although there are a few residences in that area. The east side of the park is also home to the Guilford Free Library, which sits in a building erected in 1933.


The First Congressional Church dominates the area north of the Green, including the green space just east of it. There are a few small shops in that area, as well.


Events at the Town Green


Beyond the restaurants and shops around the Town Green, you’ll find plenty of activity there throughout the year.


For starters, Guilford Town Green is widely known for its craft fairs. The largest of the bunch if the Craft Expo, which is a multi-day annual event held in the summer by the Guilford Art Center.


Another annual event is Taste of the Shoreline, which brings over 20 restaurants to Guilford Town Green for a tasting. During this event, which takes place in September, you can wander the park, listen to music, shop for some crafts, and sample the best offerings from the area’s top restaurants.


The Summer Concert Series on the Green is always a popular event, as it brings local and national bands to town on Sunday evenings in July and August. The shows get started at 6:30 and provide an excellent way to wind down after a busy weekend exploring Guilford’s many attractions.


War Memorials


As you walk through Guilford Town Green, you can’t help but notice the various war memorials scattered throughout the park.


The largest and most noticeable is the Civil War Memorial, which has been there since 1877 and features the names of every local soldier who died in the war. This statue sits near the center of the Green and is impossible to miss.


The edges of the Town Green have plaques honoring soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War, the Spanish American War, World War I, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, as well.


Spending Time at Guilford Town Green


Although Guilford Town Green might not be as vital to the community as it was in the 17th and 18th centuries, it remains a popular spot to shop, eat, or relax in a grassy, shady park in the town’s center. The Green also hosts numerous events throughout the year, and chances are, once you buy a home in Guilford, CT, you’ll spend a lot of time in this part of town.


Guilford is loaded with activities for residents, as it has beaches, hiking, shopping, dining, and historic sites, all of which you can explore once you buy a home here.

Published April 23, 2020 in Exploring Our Area, Local Information