The Wilder House rests on the outskirts of Essex, NY, and has a high seated view of Lake Champlain and Vermont beyond. This brick Victorian home was built for Reverend C. N. Wilder in the late 1870s with funds from Mrs. Laura Ann Noble (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 31).
The Noble family were patrons of Essex’s Presbyterian Church for many years, and they thought it proper to contribute to the construction of a home for their Reverend (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain 116). Reverend C. N. Wilder served the Presbyterian Church from 1865 to 1882 (HP Smith, History of Essex County).
Later this home was used as an inn and named the Agawam Inn. The porch on the south side of the house dates from the building’s time as an inn in the 1920s (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 31). Today it is again a residence.
Architecture of the Wilder House
“Mansard roof, arched dormers, bay window, and delicate tracery on the porch. All characteristic of the late 1880’s.” (Essex: The Architectural Heritage. 49)
Wilder House was built in the Victorian Second Empire Style, which copied designs from France’s Second Empire era. It is the only example of this style in Essex.
The home’s Victorian origins are apparent in the elaborate decoration over the upper floor windows, the bay window on the right side of the home, and of course the mansard roof.
“The mansard roof with pedimented dormers is characteristic of the [Second Empire Style], as are the decorative fish-scale pattern slates and the heavy paired brackets at the eaves.” (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 31)
The front porch with its scroll-sawn brackets and heavy molded posts is another original Victorian feature (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 31).
Much of the interior is well-preserved, including an ornate central staircase (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 31). The home also has several chimneys, though they are probably more decorative than functional in nature as stoves were becoming the more popular way to heat homes in the Victorian era.
A fence once stood in front of the home, but it is no longer there today. You can see it in the photo to the right. Another fence is also slightly visible in the foreground of that image. This is probably the fence of Crystal Spring Farm across the street.
If you have further knowledge of the history of this house please share your insights in the comments!
Additional Resources for Wilder House
This map (with satellite image overlay) will help you locate the Wilder 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 Wilder House
“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.
- Crystal Spring Farm (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Essex-Charlotte Steam Ferry Brochure (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Essex Community Church (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Victorian Architecture in Essex, New York (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)