Essex on Lake Champlain (Images of America) is a beautiful collection of historical photographs of Essex, New York. Author David C. Hislop Jr. accompanies the important documentary images with informative descriptions that illuminate the culture and heritage of this architecturally significant town.
Hislop begins the book with a brief history of Essex including its founding, booming maritime years followed by stagnation, and eventual transformation into a tourist destination and one of America’s premier 19th century historic districts.
“Essex is especially known for its picturesque Greek Revival architecture enhanced by its location along a scenic lakeshore set among rolling farmlands all within sight of the Adirondack Mountains. This combination of architectural integrity and environmental purity makes it one of the most intact early-19th-century villages in America still existing today.” (7)
Photographs of Essex History
Essex on Lake Champlain is divided into themed chapters to provide a better understanding of the many facets of Essex life one at a time using the photographs that relate to that aspect. For example, one chapter focuses on the natural environment around Essex, one on business and industry in the town, and another on village life and so on. Each chapter has its own short introduction, but every photo in that chapter has a little history or interesting facts listed in its description as well!
The photos span through many years, and some of the houses and buildings in Essex are shown in multiple photos. This showcases the changes several building have undergone throughout the years and inversely reveals how little other buildings have changed.
Some of the photographs show buildings that unfortunately no longer exist. For example, the Brick Block on Main Street burned down in 1924, and a new building replaced it in the same location (62-63). The book also mentions other destructive fires that occurred in town.
It’s fascinating to discover these little kernels of Essex’s past, and especially gratifying to have these wonderful photos to view and aid in learning more about the town’s history.