A Brief History of Essex, MA

(1907) Burnham’s Corner

Essex, Massachusetts borders the Great Marsh, a salt marsh  born from sweeping geological changes brought on by the Laurentide Glacier that receded from this area more than 10,000 years ago. It is a rich habitat and breeding grounds for fish, shellfish and birds.

(1918) Twenty men in the A.D. Story gang – part of the 35 men he employed in May. Vessels in progress are (left to right): the steam trawler, Roseway, and the three-masted schooners, Aviator and Lincoln.

The Schooner Ardelle prepares for launch at the Harold A. Burnham shipyard.

(circa 1900) Ice harvesting on Chebacco Lake at Driver‘s Union Houses. When the ice was 10 inches thick, harvesting could begin. Men use long poles to move cut ice blocks that float in the channel toward the ice house.

(1941) Morning train from Essex, Massachusetts.

(circa 1915) Essex Town Hall and T.O.H.P. Burnham Public Library. In 1893, townspeople were invited to donate fieldstones to the ground floor. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007 and a historic renovation was completed in 2017.

Woodman’s restaurant  - a family tradition for over 100 years.

Mechanics and a  tow truck operator from Gaybrook Garage take time out to pose for a picture. Gaybrook Garage opened in 1929, bordered by the old trolley tracks, and an actual bubbling “gay” brook.

(1956) The Village restaurant opened its doors.

Artists‘ studios, fine art galleries, antiques and specialty shops, two history museums, scenic conservation properties and arts and cultural events are here to explore  throughout the Essex River Cultural District.

Explore more about Essex, Massachusetts history on the self-guided Historic Essex Walking Tour. Sixteen interpretive signs along a one mile stretch connect past and present day Essex.

Photo: Alan Roopenian

The Official Visitors Site for the Town of Essex, Massachusetts

Town of Essex, MA
Cape Ann, Massachusetts
North of Boston
Massacusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

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