“The Sunburst motif is seen occasionally on Greek revival pediments throughout the Champlain Valley of New York and Vermont, but the frequency of its early use in Essex is notable… One is tempted to speculate that the beautiful sunrises and sunsets […] somehow inspired its early use here.” ~ Essex Community Heritage Organization, “Essex: An Architectural Guide.”
This prominent architectural adornment is one of the most notable features of the Old Essex Firehouse as the sunburst rises in the pediment of the facade. The Old Essex Firehouse‘s central location in the village at the stoplight perfectly displays that symbol to all passersby and is one reason that building and the sunburst is an image that easily comes to mind when one is asked about Essex. This de facto Essex symbol also adorns the pediments of other buildings, windows, gates, railings, and fences. Can you find it in other places?
The sunburst has become emblematic of the Essex Village Historic District over the years. In addition to architecture, the dramatic symbol influences local art and iconography. The influence is evident in local business logos including the Essex Fire Department, Historic Essex (ECHO), NEW Health, Essex Farm Institute and the Essex on Lake Champlain community blog.
“One of the remarkable assets of Essex is the adaptation of academic styles into a vernacular form known locally as Essex style, such as the distinctive Sunburst motif… actually derived from the fluted spandrel of the Federal period. Its use in pediment gables of the Greek Revival is an interesting regional development, celebrated today by residents of the town…” ~ David C. Hislop Jr., Essex on Lake Champlain.
Take a look at a variety of sunburst motif’s we found around Essex in the gallery below. I’m sure there are some we’ve missed, so if you find more sunbursts in Essex take a photo and send it to editor[@]www.essexonlakechamplain.com and we’ll add it to the gallery!
(Click an image to see larger.)