The Dr. Samuel Shumway House was built early in the 1800s (Historic Essex/ECHO documents suggest 1832, but Everest & McNulty claim 1815), in stately Federal style with some Greek Revival architectural influences. Dr. Samuel Shumway was a town officer in Essex (1841-42), and was of course a local physician (History of Essex, New York). You can see a very brief biographical sketch of him here.
Two Shumway House Facades
Facing Church Street, the home has a classic Federal style entrance “with a finely crafted stonework arch, semi-elliptical louvered fanlight, and narrow sidelights with panels reveals” (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 18). The flattened arch over the doorway is Provençal in feeling (Essex: The Architectural Heritage. 15).
Despite the elegant Federal entrance that same side of the house also displays Greek Revival influences seen in the gable end facing the street. Though some believe that is a feature of the house reminiscent of an earlier Dutch style (Our North Country Heritage; Architecture Worth Saving in Clinton and Essex Counties. 130).
Because the Shumway House is situated at the corner of two streets, Elm and Church Street, it displays two dominant facades. The west-facing side of the house, significantly longer than the east-facing side, fronts Elm Street and includes another entrance that is placed off-center. The doorway is sheltered beneath a small portico with a roof of a few feet in length.
A pair of gabled dormers jutting out of the roof on west and east sides of the house were not part of the original construction. The dormers may have been added to increase the amount of usable space in an attic to better accommodate servants’ quarters (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 100). Or perhaps they were introduced more recently simply to increase the living space on the top floor or to provide greater natural light and improved views.
“The house takes full advantage of its steep corner lot; the tall, symmetrical east side, facing the lake, includes a ground level entrance to a basement kitchen and more windows than the two street facades combined.” (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 18)
The Shumway House is constructed out of locally quarried limestone that is often called ‘graystone’ or ‘Essex bluestone’ (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 100). The Shumway House is one of a few Essex buildings made of this stone that is not associated with the Noble family in some way (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 100).
Despite the nearby quarries, only 8% of the buildings in Essex are made out of stone (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 100). Perhaps because stone is a more expensive building material? Though several houses do use local limestone in smaller features on the house.
Shumway House Owners
The Shumway House has passed through many owners throughout the years since the esteemed Dr. Shumway built it. Shortly after 1900, John Bird Burnham, a man who made great contributions to the area and the country, purchased this stone house at the corner of Church and Elm Streets and became one of several Shumway House’s homeowners (Essex on Lake Champlain). If you know of other owners, please add them in the comments below. Thanks!
Additional Resources for Dr. Samuel Shumway House
This map (with satellite image overlay) will help you locate the Dr. Samuel Shumway House and see how its location relates to other historic buildings in the historic district.
References for the Dr. Samuel Shumway House
“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..
Everest, Allan Seymour. Our North Country Heritage; Architecture Worth Saving in Clinton and Essex Counties. Plattsburgh, NY: Tundra, 1972. Print.
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.