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Town Hall

Gilford’s town business was first conducted at meetings held in the Gunstock Meetinghouse and then, after 1841, in the hall which was built in the village below. In 1885 the town appropriated $125 for a proper vault which was installed in Gilford’s Town Hall. (Note, that building is now part of the Gilford Community Church complex, but the door of the vault, rescued through efforts of members of Thompson-Ames Historical Society, is on display in the new Gilford Town Hall.)

But up until the late 1800s, as stated in Adair Mulligan’s book The Gunstock Parish, the selectmen, town clerk, and tax collector usually worked out of their homes, which were warmer than the Town Hall in winter.

The Town Hall later had a stage added on for the village school’s annual public exercises as well as for Grange plays and young people’s dances; even later, the town’s library was moved to Town Hall. Since a bathroom was not installed at Gilford’s Town Hall until the mid -1950s, town business was more comfortably conducted at home before that time.

Town business dealt with issuing documents (such as marriage certificates), welfare and the Poor Farm (or workhouse), fire and police protection, school matters, and, among others, Town Meetings, evolved to be two-day events, with important elections, including state and national positions, occurring the first day and the balance of local business on the second, according to Adair Mulligan’s findings.

Included in the “Town Hall” display area are excerpts from the personal scrapbook of Gilford’s (1947-1982) Town Clerk, Lorraine Royce, who helped set up the “Town Hall” display center. Of special interest are a Masonian map, a Gilford ballot box, and portraits of William Blaisdell, Gilford’s first town clerk, and John “Pick” Smith, a selectman (also known as the “unofficial banker of Gilford”), whose family album and Bible as well as branding iron are on display.