Located on the southwest corner of School Street and Elm Street, the Billings Stone Cottage is a Federal period cottage that was built by P.P. Billings out of local graystone that was quarried immediately behind the house. The same quarry also supplied building material for many other Essex buildings during the early 19th century (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 95).
Completed in 1828, the Billings Stone Cottage remains to this day it the only stone cottage in the historic village of Essex, NY. The cottage was built on land purchased by wealthy Essex merchants Ransom and Harmon Noble, and their descendants owned and maintained it for over 100 years, often using it as a tenant house (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 20).
Billings Stone Cottage Architecture
The simple construction of the Billings Stone Cottage and the stonework indicate a solidity and permanence that its original owners probably sought to project.
“The front and two end walls are laid up in roughly dressed, regular ashlar (squared stone). The rear wall is of rubble stone that probably was waste from the quarrying operations and from the dressing of the blocks used in the other three walls.” (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 20)
The house resembles the hall and parlor cottages frequently found in the United Kingdom; only the sidelights flanking the front door and the large size of the windows mark the difference in design (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 20)
The Billings Stone Cottage has been undergoing a professional restoration under the guidance of architect John I. Mesick for many years. Local craftsmen designed the porch and restored many of the missing architectural elements that the years had worn away (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 96).
Additional Resources for Billings Stone Cottage
This map (with satellite image overlay) will help you locate the Billings Stone Cottage and see how its location relates to other historic buildings in the historic district.
View Flaneur’s Guide to Essex, New York in a larger map
References for Billings Stone Cottage
“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” Essex Community Heritage Organization, 1986.
“Essex Village Historic District.” Living Places. Ed. Julia Gombach. The Gombach Group, 2010. Web. 28 Nov. 2012. .
Hislop, David C., Jr. Essex on Lake Champlain. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub., 2009. Print. Images of America.
“Historic Essex.” Historic Essex. Essex Community Heritage Organization. Web. 28 Nov. 2012. <http://www.essexny.org/>.
McNulty, George F., and Margaret Scheinin. Essex; the Architectural Heritage. Burlington, VT: Queen City Printers, 1971. Print.
Smith, H. P. History of Essex County: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Syracuse, N. Y.: D. Mason &, 1885. Print.