Essex blossomed as a principal port in the early-nineteenth century with several taverns offering food and rest to boatmen and travelers and substantial warehouses for temporary storage of goods. Prosperous merchants built fashionable homes along the main street. Shipyards built dozens of commercial vessels from sloops to schooners to sailing canal boats.
The coming of the railroad brought Essex shipping prosperity to an end. Few buildings were built there after 1860, leaving Essex looking just as it did in the first half of the nineteenth century. Explore the Federal and Greek Revival buildings using the architectural guide available at ECHO. Stroll through Begg's Park and imagine the harbor choked with masts and noisy with the sounds of canal boats loading and unloading. Or linger at the Essex Inn or one of many historic bed-and-breakfast establishments. Above all, enjoy the human scale of this hamlet, all of which comprises a historic district.
A few miles to the west, a chapel and an octagonal school mark the hamlet of Boquet located at a modest drop on the Boquet River. An iron-rolling mill, sawmill, and woolen mill once stood beside the stream where people now stop to picnic. Farther up the river, a Grange hall in Whallonsburg records the importance of the Patrons of Husbandry to this community in the early years of the twentieth century.