A Walk Around Essex, New York
My cousin’s recent wedding on the shore of Lake Champlain, gave us the perfect opportunity to spend a night in Essex, New York. With a dense trove of nineteenth century architecture, compact layout that encourages walking, plus more activity, shops and restaurants than almost any other village its size I can think of, it is well worth a trip for any occasion though.
This is particularly true for architecture buffs like myself. Settled in 1765, its historical role as a Lake Champlain port, commercial hub for the surrounding region and summer destination have endowed it with buildings ranging from humble cottages, to picturesque churches to substantial mansions. Looking at the town from the ferry that connects it Charlotte Vermont gives one the opportunity to get an overview of the town from the water. To the left lies it's compact waterfront and town center.
To the right, its "Merchants Row" of grand federal and greek revival homes stretches along the shore of Lake Champlain.
The ferry brings a steady stream of people to the village.
A couple of the stores on Main Street, taken early in the morning before the street bustles with activity.
Strolling down the side streets off of main street, one encounters brick and clapboard cottages and homes, some with a gently aged patina, others recently renovated.
However modest they may be, many enjoy a million dollar view!
The zealously tended gardens and yards of the homes add another joyful element to Essex's streetscapes, from riots of color.....
To the more restrained (but no less exuberant) palettes.
Part of the fun in strolling about town is observing how the wide variations on standard architectural elements serve to make each house stand out from the other, as seen these next two very different takes on a gambrel roof.
Walking along the waterfront and Main Street only gives you half the architectural picture of Essex. to experience its full glories one must walk up the hill to Elm Street.
I promise it's worth it!
The scale and detailing of these two brick houses is worth it alone!
A slight jaunt up Schoolhouse road revealed this early stone federal cottage, a study in vernacular symmetry.
Heading back down Elm Street, one is rewarded with more interesting buildings, including this modest yet exquisite red frame house.
This church of rough-cut stone is one of the villages more imposing buildings, appropriate perhaps, for around the corner to the north starts Merchant's row.
The formal beginning of Merchant Row is marked by the town's library, formerly known as Greystone cottage
Which leads one to Greystone itself, a large Greek Revival mansion.
The neighboring handsome brick federal neighboring home is overshadowed by the unique octagonal folly in its garden.
Beyond is a pristinely restored tan federal, with a sublime matching boathouse across the street.
I will stop my tour (although the street continues on) with this inviting, gambrel roofed cottage set back behind a hedge of hydrangeas, shaded by the mature trees growing on its broad lawn.
This is a small sample of the architectural delights Essex has to offer. I would recommend checking out the Essex Community Blog, which contains tons of information, and also the Essex Inn, where we stayed, with a great staff and welcoming collumnaded porch right on Main Street. It is worth staying in Essex for at least a day if you can. For along with plenty of walking, you also want to be able to take an opportunity to relax, and enjoy its unique atmosphere.