Every Monday we share a vintage image on the Essex on Lake Champlain Facebook page and invite our viewers to play some Vintage Essex Trivia. Do you recognize site and the central building from neighboring Willsboro, NY? It’s by the bridge downtown. This is the town’s old bank as the name in the caption identifies for us: “Essex County National Bank of Willsboro.” The back of the postcard tells us a bit more about the bank.
The caption on the back reads:
The Essex County National Bank of Willsboro was founded on August 8th, 1921 to serve the people of Willsboro and the surrounding farming area. The bank has shown steady growth, until it is now one of the leading institutions of Essex County.
However, I’m sure most locals know that it is not a bank today (and I bet everyone caught on when I called it the old bank earlier). Currently this building is home to the Willsboro Heritage Museum. Although before that occupation began it was used by the town’s school (I had second grade there back in the late 1990s). The large building we can see part of (to the left) is Willsboro Central School, whose proximity made it easy for kids to travel between the two. Today that school is now a senior center and the current school is on the other side of town.
When do you think the photo was taken? We know it was after 1921 because that is when the bank began operation. And as Diane Lansing notes below it merged with Westport’s bank to form the Champlain National Bank Corp., and with a little research I found that happened in 1959. So the postcard must have been created between 1921-1959. Perhaps the style of car can help someone pin-point a decade? The postage on the back is dated 1950, which helps narrow it to that year or prior.
The back of the postcard also tells us that it was published by “Baldwin & Co., Willsboro, NY.” Has anyone ever heard of this company? Perhaps that could be a clue someone can use to help date it? (I did some quick research and discovered that there was a Baldwin’s Home Made Ice Cream Store and Balwin’s General Store across from where Willsboro’s hardware store is today.)
Learn more from what the community had to say about the photo (many recognized it!):
Catherine DeWolff: It is the old bank building which now is the home of the Willsboro Heritage Society Museum. Worth the visit if you haven’t been. Lots of good stuff! Right next door to the Library.
Dwayne Cross Jr.: Bank was built by Gilbert in 1921. Both the bank and the library were constructed by Gilbert in the Neoclassical style.
Donna Marie McKenna: It was the bank, then class rooms for the school at one point as my son, Michael J, had Robin Blanchard for a teacher in one of those classrooms.
Dwayne Cross Jr.: I had Jerry Stone for a teacher there many moons ago lol
Dianne Lansing: This is the former bank. It was designed by a noted architect…..was it ‘something Gilbert?’ Well, I guess my answer wasn’t so clever as it says Bank of Willsboro in the upper right. That was before it merged with Westport.
Chris Oliver: I know it as the Paine Memorial Library
Elizabeth Moore: I remember is at the Paine Memorial Library too. Fond memories from my middle and high school years (class of 1980)
Judith Davis: Is this building still there?
Bernadette Dutka Hanson: One time jail?
I don’t believe it was ever used as a jail as one commenter questioned. Anyone else want to chime in?
A couple of people mistook this building for the Paine Memorial Library, which is understandable because it looks very similar and was built in the same architectural style—and it is right next door (to the right, unseen in the photo).
Do you have any other thoughts or information to share? Any memories of visiting the bank or having class in that building? We’d love to read your stories—leave a comment below!
Share Your Essex Artifacts
If you want to share your old photos of Essex (or brochures; postcards; menus; tickets; any artifact) on the blog please email us at editor [at] essexonlakechamplain [dot] com.
- Vintage Postcard: Essex Main Street Looking North (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Vintage Photo: St. John’s Church (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Vintage Postcard: Gem of the Lake (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Vintage Postcard: Camel’s Hump (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Vintage Postcard: Bluff Point (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Old Photo: Town of Essex Youth Commission Float (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)