The hamlet of Essex, NY, is on the United States list of historic districts. Essex was once a popular maritime port, but after 1850 the population shrank as a result of the decline in industrial and commercial activity, and with the advent of the railroad trade by waterway diminished. This decline in activity and population unintentionally preserved many historic buildings in Essex as fewer new buildings were needed and it was more affordable to reuse existing buildings.
Several types of historical architecture styles have been preserved in Essex. The most significant are included here.
Grown out of the Italian Renaissance in Europe and ancient Greek and Roman influences, the Georgian architectural style was developed by English architects who “emphasized classicism, order, and symmetry regardless of function” (Historic New England). Georgian architecture spread across the Atlantic and was popular in America from about 1700-1830. It is the oldest style of the historical homes remaining in Essex, NY. Some of the features include a square, symmetrical shape; paired chimneys; decoration above the entryway…[Continue reading.]
Federal architecture, sometimes referred to as the Federalist or Adam style, was a highly popular style in many places throughout the newly independent colonies from about 1780-1840. Today many historians consider Federal architecture an evolution (or refinement) of the earlier Georgian style. Federal architecture is more likely to incorporate curved lines and decorative flourishes than its predecessor. A simple square or rectangular box shape, two or three stories high and two rooms deep was the typical form; although some buildings were or have since been made larger with additions…[Continue reading.]
Greek Revival architecture was popular in America from about 1818-1850. It was the first truly national style in the United States that spread all across the country. This young nation identified it with a connection with Greece, the birthplace of democracy, which was the strong emerging ideology of the recently independent country. Columns and pilasters are among the most common elements of Greek Revival architecture. The roof line and decoration along it are also popular features of this style; the front-gable design influenced the shape of American houses well into the 20th century…[Continue reading.]
Victorian architecture is a broad and diverse classification including Gothic Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, and Shingle style amongst many others, and the particulars of this style are often under debate. Essex was undergoing a shaky economic time during the Victorian Era, so few new houses were built. There was a brief surge in new construction from 1890-1910, but the majority of construction that occurred during the Victorian Era were modifications to existing buildings. With Victorian renovations and embellishments primarily undertaken within residential interiors, much of the Victorian architecture in Essex is not readily visible, however, there are some exterior examples…[Continue reading.]