In 1817 John Gould began purchasing parcels of land just south of Essex’s town center to combine into a property upon which he could build his home. By the time his house was built he owned nearly the entire block (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 14). The John Gould House was finished circa 1833 in Federal design though the house also has some Greek Revival features.
The five-bay Federal facade of the house does not include decorative details of the earlier Federal period but rather weightier proportions of emerging Greek Revival design (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 14).
The columns and small portico of the central entrance and the cut gray limestone exterior lend the John Gould House similar — though more modest — appearance to the Noble family’s Greystone mansion which was built two decades later (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 111). Perhaps the John Gould House served as inspiration for Greystone?
The John Gould House was constructed of a locally mined limestone, a type of rock often referred to as ‘graystone’ by locals (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 14). Some of this stone was quarried in neighboring Willsboro, but the majority of the building material used to build John Gould’s home was quarried in Essex itself.
This local gray limestone was used in the construction of many Essex buildings still standing today, often often used to construct or face a handsome foundation or other architectural feature (entrance steps, hitching posts, carriage blocks and upping stones).
Former Victorian Gardens
In the 1880s the grounds of the John Gould House included formal Victorian gardens (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 14), known as the Palmer-Havens Garden, that were developed at the direction of a new homeowner, Palmer E. Havens. (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 111).
The gardens were so beautiful and well-regarded that engravings and photographs were widely circulated to share its beauty with those unable to visit (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 111).
However time has removed the grounds’ former glory, and only a gazebo remains today to mark the memory of that once meticulously manicured landscape. A long decorative fence that ran along the front of the property also succumbed to the trials of time.
Additional Resources for the John Gould House
This map (with satellite image overlay) will help you locate the John Gould House and see how its location relates to other historic buildings in the historic district.
View Discover Essex on Lake Champlain in a larger map
References for the John Gould 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. .
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.
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