Shoreline Chamber Of Commerce - CT
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Serving the Towns of Guilford, Branford and North Branford
History of Guilford

A Quintessential New England Town

In May of 1639 a band of puritans, led by the Reverend Henry Whitfield, left England to seek religious freedom in the new world.  They arrived in Quinnipiac (now called New Haven) later that summer.
After negotiating with the local Native Americans, who were represented by their squaw sachem Shaumpishuh, they purchased land halfway between New Haven and Saybrook.  There they established the plantation of Menuncatuck, which would later become Guilford.
Like most 17th century New England towns, Guilford was organized around a common or green.  The first houses were small huts with thatched roofs, wooden walls and dirt floors.  Guilford, unlike other villages, had no protective palisade fence surrounding the community - instead they built four large stone houses for the leaders of the plantation.  These homes were strategically located and used for shelter during times of danger.  This medieval type arrangement survived through several generations.
Later in the 17th century Guilford became part of the New Haven Colony and then Connecticut Colony.  Guilford's William Leete was one of the first governors of these colonies. During the Revolutionary War, Guilford was attacked by British troops from New York.  The local militia was able to defeat the invaders.
By the 18th century the town had become a thriving coastal community with agriculture and the sea supporting the economy.
In the 19th century, with expanding shipbuilding and the coming of the railroad, Guilford's business base expanded to include canneries, shoe shops and carriage makers.  Local granite from the area was used in the base of the Statue of Liberty. 
By the end of the 19th and into the 20th centuries, Guilford became a summer destination for Victorian vacationers.  Fine hotels, restaurants and summer cottages sprang up in Mulberry Point, Sachem's Head, Indian Cove and Leete's Island. 
With the advent of the national highway system, much of Guilford has shifted to a year-round population.