Guilford Town Green
The Guilford Green is a large rectangle of not quite 12 acres that is bordered by Park Street on the east, Broad Street on the North, Whitfield Street on the west and Boston Street on the south. Each street is a two-lane, two-way street. Parallel parking is permitted around the perimeter with the exception of Park Street where perpendicular parking is allowed. Perpendicular parking is also allowed on the Opposite side of the street along Boston and Whitfield Streets where the commercial buildings are located.
The green is flat but uneven. It is planted with grass and bounded by tall pink granite curbs. Concrete sidewalks radiate diagonally inward at each corner and meet at the other side of the green at approximately the half-way point. Another runs through the center from north to south. Two more transverse it from east to west. The ultimate result is that the green is divided into twelve small triangles around the circumference and two large triangles in the center. Approximately 125 trees are planted throughout the green, mainly along the paths. Evidence of the earlier pattern of planting along the paths and around the edges of the green is evident. However, it has been obscured over time by the inclusion of replacement trees as the older ones die, the addition of different species; and the planting of trees in areas other than along the paths. There are twice as many trees in the northern half of the green and very few are found in the two center triangles where many group activities take place. This open space in the center is historically accurate. From the street and when standing at any particular point on the green, shade trees dominate the view.
The focal point is a tall pink granite Civil War memorial (1877) located near the center and slightly to the west of the green although, because of the size of the green and the trees, it is generally not visible from the street and many parts of the green during the summer. On top of a large rectangular base stands a Union soldier facing south. The names of Guilford men who died during the war are carved on each of the four polished sides of the base.
Smaller memorials have been placed around the edges of the green. These include a large boulder with a bronze plaque honoring those who served in the Spanish American War (1941); a smaller boulder with a bronze plaque “in memory of all Revolutionary Soldiers in Guilford” (1941); a rectangular cut stone memorializing those who served in World War I, Korea and Vietnam (1974); a large rectangular stone next to a smaller one remembering those who died in Vietnam (1984); another large boulder with a bronze plaque dedicated to those who served in World War I; and a polished granite memorial honoring fire fighters who lost their lives in the line of duty.
The streetscape dates primarily from the 19th century. Commercial activity is located along Whitfield and Water Streets. The homes and institutional buildings (the town hall and library) are located along Park Street. Three churches face the green, each on a different street. The lots along the street are narrow and the buildings are located close to the sidewalks. As a result, they create a comfortable frame around the green. The only break in the street wall is the modern Catholic Church on Whitfield Street that is situated on a large lot set some distance back from the street.
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