In Essex, NY, the Greek Revival architectural style was used most often in the form of details and ornamentation such as columns or street-facing gables (Essex: The Architectural Heritage. 29). Block House Farm, located near the northern limit of the village is unique in that it is the only building in Essex to reach fully developed Greek Revival temple style.
“Very Jeffersonian in its simplicity and power, it nevertheless represents a style where practicality is subservient to pure form.” (Essex: The Architectural Heritage. 29)
Built c. 1836, Block House Farm’s Doric temple facade includes four white freestanding columns supporting a pediment inset with a sunburst design in the fanlight that has become Essex’s symbol. The large pediment also gives authenticity to the Block House Farm’s appearance as “a porticoed Greek temple” (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 55).
“Its temple effect is accentuated by its site set high above the lake on its terraces, with fields and orchards about it, its portico and gable toward the road.” (Living Places)
The side dormers that protrude from the roof line on the north and south sides were added at a later date sometime in the 20th century to make more usable space on the attic level (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 32). They added practicality to the home, but they broke the original clean lines of the temple form.
Block House Farm draws its name from an eighteenth century blockhouse that once stood nearby, which served as a combination of courthouse, jail and fort, though all that is left today is a historical marker on the spot. However some of the timbers of that blockhouse were used in the construction of a barn that still stands on the Block House Farm property (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 32).
Additional Resources for Block House Farm
This map (with satellite image overlay) will help you locate the Block House Farm and see how its location relates to other historic buildings in the historic district.
View Discover Essex on Lake Champlain in a larger map
References for the Block House Farm
“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. <http://www.livingplaces.com/NY/Essex_County/Essex_Town/Essex_Village_Historic_District.html>.
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.