The Essex Inn on the Adirondack Coast has operated since c. 1810, when Essex was a thriving town on the shores of vibrant Lake Champlain. Once the expressway between Montreal and New York City, the Lake was the scene of battles fought by Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne, Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold that forged our country's independence.
The historic Essex Inn is almost as old as the town itself. As the town began its largest period of growth in the early Nineteenth Century, the Inn was a social hub for merchants, travelers, and residents alike.
In the 1820’s Essex was the busiest seaport on the Lake. Through it funneled timber, iron, cattle and hides. At one time there were more than 10 inns in the community, serving drovers, lumberman and lakers.
Like many other buildings in the hamlet, the Inn was built in stages. The first structure was erected c. 1810 in Federal style with a five-bay façade and triangular gable roofs ends on both sides of the building, unlike the later front-facing Greek revival gable. Around 1829, another similar framed building was added to the north side of the Inn. This structure was later moved down Main Street and today it is the current town hall.
Circa 1835, a Greek revival colonnade was added to the front of the building, and the 11 wooden columns that supported the two stories gave the building the look of a Greek temple.
No railing existed on the bottom porch of the inn until safety regulations were mandated in the 20th Century. Shortly thereafter a matching railing was created on the upper porch.
According to local historian Morris Glenn, the Essex Inn was a hotbead of espionage in the War of 1812. “Spies and military people using the Essex ferry would hang out at the Inn trying to find intelligence,” Glenn said. At that time, local militiaman Delavan Delance owned the inn and regularly housed troops there.
Under various names, including North Hotel, Essex Inn and more, the current Essex Inn is the longest-lived guesthouse/tavern in the town, having operated continuously from the early lake port days until today, except for a 50-year period in the 20th Century when the building was used as a private home.
In the spring of 2010, Rick and Karen Dalton purchased the Essex Inn and immediately began a top-to-bottom renovation with new electrical, heating and plumbing systems, total refurbishment of sleeping rooms, and the creation of a state-of-the art commercial kitchen. In March of 2015, a major addition began that will add two additional suites on the second floor in the northwest corner of the Inn, along with a redesign and overhaul of the landscaping in the courtyard. Today the Inn offers 21st Century comfort and amenities in a charming 19th Century setting.
Nestled in the foothills of the Adirondacks along the shores of the sixth largest body of fresh water in the United States sits Essex, New York. Often called New York's most historic hamlet, Essex contains one of the most intact collections of pre-Civil War architecture in America. Located near the widest part of Lake Champlain, south of the Four Brothers Islands and north of the Split Rock Lighthouse, the community is served by year-round ferry service from Charlotte, Vermont, 15 miles south of Burlington.