Although the population of this once busy port town was declining, a new school was still an important expenditure for the futures of Essex children.
Union Free School, as it was known, established high school grades and provided free further education for the young men and women of Essex; prior to this students who wished to attend college would have to attend a private school to prepare them for college (Essex, New York: An Early History. 61).
Union School was abandoned when the construction of a new brick school finished in 1908. The building was restored in the 1970’s, and has hosted several organizations throughout the years including the Adirondack Art Association. Today it houses the shop Renew and the Essex Heritage Center (formerly ECHO).
Union School Architecture
Union School was built in Greek Revival style. This late use of the style was a strange choice because the Greek Revival fad had faded in most areas by this time, however, for Essex, this conservative choice fit in well with the already existing buildings (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 23).
Most of the original architectural details remain on the restored building, including the twelve-over-twelve light sash in the windows, clapboard siding, and trim (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 23). Two chimneys that were attached to the stoves that once heated the building have been removed (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 81).
The pilastered belfry is a cupola featuring a metal Moorish arch roof. Does anyone know if there is or was a bell held inside? Share your knowledge in the comments! A replica of an early weathervane was added to the cupola in 2008.
The Union Free School is featured in Essex, New York Architecture: A Doodler’s Field Guide and is also available as a limited edition Union Free School watercolor card, available in the Essex Editions online store.
Additional Resources for Union School
This map (with satellite image overlay) will help you locate the Union School 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 Union School
Belden Noble Memorial Library. Essex, New York: An Early History. Burlington, VT: Queen City Printers, 2003. Print.
Belden Noble Memorial Library. Essex, New York: Lake Champlain’s Historic Harbor. 1969. Print.
“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” Essex Community Heritage Organization, 1986.
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.
- Greek Revival Architecture in Essex, New York (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Former Essex Baptist Church & Masonic Lodge (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- 1954 LCT Ferry Brochure (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Harmon Noble Schoolhouse (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)