Guildhall town office

The county seat of Essex County, Guildhall is bounded by the Connecticut River and the towns of Maidstone, Lunenburg and Granby. A village in the northeastern corner houses the county buildings, a town clerk’s office, a library and a church. Directly across the Connecticut River are Lancaster and Northumberland, N.H.

The town was chartered in 1761 by New Hampshire Gov. Benning Wentworth. The original settlers were from Lancaster and Lunenburgh in Massachusetts, and they used the same names for other towns on opposite sides of the Connecticut River in Vermont and New Hampshire. They intended for Lunenburgh to include all of what was afterwards found to be the south part of Guildhall.

The Vermont Historical Gazatteer tells us that a small group of settlers built temporary cabins and camps, and Native Americans were very common in this area. They often invited Native Americans to the houses of the settlers to stay all night and have a “drunk,” as they called it. The first record of a town meeting was in 1783. Though the origin of the name Guildhall is unknown, it is the only town in the world so named. The landscape is well-watered by several brooks including Washburn, Jones, Emery, Catbow, Sheridan and Hudson.

Like many other Essex County towns, Guildhall is heavily wooded and once played a significant part in the lumber trade. For those who seek natural scenery, the valley of the Connecticut River in Guildhall had beautiful meadows, timber land and off in the distance, the White Mountains. Today, Guildhall is accessed by Route 102, which winds its way north-south along the banks of the Connecticut River.