Provisions and Paparazzi in Essex, NY

Diane Purdy at Essex Provisions in Essex, NY

Diane Purdy at Essex Provisions in Essex, NY

“Essex is alive with both new and well-established businesses, opening up, dusting off and getting ready for the season…” So opens Sue Cameron’s “Provisions and Papparazzi” post on LakePlacid.com on June 14. Essex is alive! It’s incredible how much is going on in Essex these last couple of weeks. Essex businesses have proven that even a record breaking flood can’t drown the Essex spirit. Residents, businesses and friends of both are pulling together for what is shaping up to be the best summer in decades.

Stephanie Wilber at Essex Provisions

Stephanie Wilber at Essex Provisions

Cameron headed over to Essex for visit to the newly opened Essex Provisions.

We located Essex Provisions next to the Essex Marina entrance. It’s a great location overlooking the piers and the old tin roofs of the marina complex! It made me feel like I was at Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey! Upon entering the freshly painted and artfully decorated store, you’ll find a welcoming atmosphere with a beautiful display of provisions (of course) and more. Stephanie Wilber and Diane Purdy, proprietors, are well-known in the business, having owned Keene Valley Marketplace for a number of years prior to selling it a couple of years ago. A big ol’ soup kettle invites you to self serve, which we did. It was a good soup day. Phenomenal is the best word for the very hearty chicken and vegetable soup, so chock full it was almost like stew. We sat eating our soup on the back deck overlooking the lake, festooned with wind chimes made from old silver flatware and took in the view of the Green Mountains of Vermont far in the distance… (via LakePlacid.com)

Cameron’s must-read review of Essex Provisions will trigger your belly rumbling, so best not to read it at the library. She tours the delectables and the colossal farm fresh eggs from Libby and George Pataki’s South Farm even make a cameo which inevitably leads to the paparazzi… Read the full review!

Longtime Residents Recall Essex Inn Years Ago

Karen and Rick Dalton at the Essex Inn with longtime Essex residents

Karen and Rick Dalton with longtime Essex residents (photo courtesy of The Press Republican)

Last Sunday Alvin Reiner at the Press-Republican ran a fascinating story about the Essex Inn and the fusion of past and future in this historic landmark recently renovated by the Daltons and now open to the public.

Early on, Rick and Karen Dalton took down the fence between the Essex Inn here and the senior center behind the historic property.

“We told them (the seniors) would be the first guests to have lunch here,” said Rick, who with his wife bought the inn last year and had it renovated.

At that lunch, senior citizens reminisced about their memories of the inn; high-school students from Willsboro caught those stories for a video production on the history of Essex and its inn.

“This is a place to learn about local history, and for the students to develop a bond with senior citizens,” Rick said. (via Press-Republican)

It is this interplay of historic Essex and evolving, revitalized Essex that makes the Daltons’ renovation so exciting. On the one hand, they’ve restored a significant historic landmark that dates back to the founding of Essex. On the other hand, they’ve resuscitated and modernized the facilities to ensure that even the most discerning clientele will feel pampered and eager to return.

In addition to charming inn accommodations, a delicious restaurant (where my appetite’s been spoiled twice already and where I’ll be returning this evening), a handsome Adirondack rustic bar, and a garden oasis, the top-to-bottom renovation allowed the Daltons to include offices for College for Every Student (CFES). Their two decade old nonprofit “helps underserved students take steps to prepare for, gain access to, and succeed in college.” In short, CFES is an organization committed to the future of everyone they serve!

CFES currently works with 140 rural and urban schools and districts in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Each school works with more than 50 CFES Scholars (low-income youth), most of whom would be first in their family to pursue higher education, to help them get to college and succeed there. (via collegefes.org)

Dakoda Latford, Taylor Strong, John Fine-Lease and John Pollack, Willsboro students who are currently enrolled in the CFES program, are creating a multi-media presentation from the stories that the seniors recounted about the history of the Essex Inn as part of a service leadership project. According to Karen Dalton, these CFES students are building their own college futures while preserving the past.

“We are reaching out to bridge the gap, as there is often a lot of knowledge that gets lost,” she said. (via Press-Republican.)

Essex has long represented an important bridge back into history, but the Dalton’s Essex Inn revitalization is one of many new bridges forward toward a bright and shiny future.

Old Dock Opening July 1

The Old Dock Restaurant in Essex, NY undergoing renovations for the summer of 2011

The Old Dock Restaurant in Essex, NY undergoing renovations for the summer of 2011.

I stopped by The Old Dock Restaurant on Thursday to catch up with Steve McKenna who was pruning hedges and getting the parking lot ready for their July 1 opening date. Really? Really!

Despite totally record breaking Lake Champlain flooding, McKenna has worked around the clock for weeks to revitalize this Essex, NY landmark. I can’t begin to guess how many times I’ve been asked about the Old Dock this spring. It’s one of the iconic Essex buildings on the waterfront, and for many the images of the entire restaurant, parking lot and pier submerged for almost two months seemed an insurmountable challenge. And yet, miraculously, the Old Dock is back on her feet and promises to be better than ever.

I look forward to a frosty libation and a perfect sunset soon… Who’s coming?

Summer Arrives in Essex on Lake Champlain

Kim Rielly posted an enthusiastic blog post about summer in Essex celebrating flood recovery, exciting new businesses and the timeless charm that has drawn visitors and residents for decades. She asks,

“could it possibly be true that the recently-submerged businesses were planning to open THIS summer?

It’s true. In fact, the community is not only ready to welcome visitors for the summer – it is veritably BUZZING with activity.

A stroll through the tree-lined streets of this historic town is quite a treat. Bolstered by pedestrian traffic from the ferry from Vermont, the restaurants, shops, inns and art galleries complement the gorgeous 19th century architecture, (the entire village is on the National Historic Register, and includes the most intact collections of federal and Greek Revival architecture in the entire state!)

And you won’t find any empty storefronts; there are several new businesses, and twists on some of the classics. (via LakePlacid.com.)

Kim highlights some of the newest additions to the Essex allure including:

  • the newly renovated Essex Inn
  • the newly renovated Ice Cream Shop
  • the newly opened Live Well holistic health center
  • the newly relocated ReNew thrift shop
  • the newly opened Pink Pig
  • the better than ever Adirondack Art Association
  • and Champlain Area Trails.
Essex Inn on the Adirondack Coast

Essex Inn on the Adirondack Coast (photo credit LakePlacid.com.)

As  I indicated in my comments beneath Kim’s blog post, she captures the current energy and excitement in Essex. I wrote:

The number of new and renovated businesses alone is thrilling! And when you consider the record-breaking flooding and how much effort has been required to recover from the incumbent setbacks, it is truly astounding. What I see happening in Essex is a nothing short of a renaissance, a top-to-bottom revitalization of the community and the businesses and organizations which lend vitality to the charming landscape, geography and architecture. It’s an exciting time to live and work in Essex!

Essex friends, neighbors, businesses and recent visitors will understand what I mean. I hope that you will come to Essex to discover what all the buzz is about!

The Old Dock Restaurant

The Old Dock Restaurant

The Old Dock Restaurant is a seasonal restaurant and bar located in the Historic Hamlet of Essex, New York. Guests arrive by automobile, private boat or on the Charlotte-Essex… Slips are available for our guests who arrive by boat. Passengers on the Charlotte-Essex ferry have the option to leave their automobiles in the free parking lot at Charlotte and when they arrive in Essex stroll a few feet to the Old Dock. Parking is available on site for those guests who arrive by automobile. (via The Old Dock Restaurant)

Essex Shipyard and Rudder Club

Essex Shipyard in Essex, NY

Essex Shipyard in Essex, NY

Come dine with us while taking in the spectacular views of Lake Champlain and Vermont landscape… Our Marina offers boaters a place to take occupancy for the summer, weekend or evening… Essex is a great place to enjoy the splendors of the boating on Lake Champlain with all of the Adirondack recreation you can take in. (via Essex Shipyard & Rudder Club.)