The historic Essex Inn is almost as old as the town in which it has thrived for two centuries. From the early 19th century when Essex was growing rapidly, the Essex Inn was a social hub for merchants, visitor and residents alike.
In the 1820’s, Essex was “the busiest port on Lake Champlain.” Through it funneled the timber, iron, cattle, and hides of the western shore of the Champlain Valley. Its inns (and there are two surviving of a documented five) swarmed with drovers, lumbermen and “lakers.” (Living Places)
This video gives a brief history of the Essex Inn, and locals talk about some of the inn’s more recent history as well as its importance to the community.
Essex Inn Architecture
The Essex Inn is another historic Essex building that was built in stages. It was built in c. 1810 in Federal style with a five-bay facade, and triangular gable roof ends on either side of the building–unlike the later popular front-facing Greek Revival gable (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.”13). The inn was later expanded and connected to a similar framed building to the north of it around 1829, which gave it a very similar look to Wright’s Inn down the street (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 13).
A Greek Revival colonnade was added to the front of the building in c. 1835, and the eleven wooden columns that supported the new two stories of porches gave the building a look somewhat like Greek temple (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 13). It is perhaps the most iconic Greek influenced building within the main village.
No lower railing existed on the bottom porch of the inn until new safety regulations made it necessary to build one in the 20th century, and one was created to match the upper porch (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 90).
Essex Inn through the Ages
Under various names, including North Hotel, Essex Inn, and more, “this inn is probably the longest-lived in the town, having operated almost continuously from the early lake port days to the resort town years in the early twentieth century” (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 13). The building is currently a working inn known as the Essex Inn on the Adirondack Coast.
There was only one lapse when it was not in operation lasting about 50 years when the building was used as a private home (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 92).
Some of its earlier proprietors included: Delavan Delance, Noble Clemmons, De Lloyd W. North, Harry Palmer, William Brandeau, Eli Farnsworth,William Brainard, and many more (History of Essex, New York).
Learn more about the current inn at the website of Essex Inn on the Adirondack Coast.
“More than two centuries later, beginning in the spring of 2010, the Inn has undergone a top-to-bottom renovation with new electrical and heating systems, plumbing , totally refurbished sleeping rooms, and a state-of-the art commercial kitchen. Today the Inn offers 21st Century comfort and amenities in a charming 19th Century setting.” (Essex Inn on the Adirondack Coast)
Additional Resources for the Historic Essex Inn
This map (with satellite image overlay) will help you locate the Essex Inn 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 the Essex Inn
“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.