About the Area
One of the oldest settlements in Connecticut, ‘Pettipague’ was established in 1648. The village’s primary business was the marine trades. Shipbuilding started in 1720, producing schooners for the West Indies trade. The first warship owned by the United States - the 24-gun Oliver Cromwell - was built here. By the early 1800s, its reputation as a major shipbuilding center attracted the attention of the British, who chose to raid the town during the war of 1812. The village sustained large economic losses, but, by promising not to resist the British militia, were able to save their homes and cause no harm to the townspeople. Shortly afterward, the name of the town was changed to Essex.
Today, Essex’s Main Street maintains much of the same configuration as it did 300 years ago. Some lovely historic homes, with different architectural features, are tucked amongst the village’s collection of boutiques, specialty shops, taverns, and historic restaurants.
It's historic Steamboat Dock, now the Connecticut River Museum, a National Register site, provides exhibits about the maritime heritage of the Connecticut River and the lower river valley.
History abounds in Essex, which is one reason why it's such an ideal cruising destination or home port for your boat. In Essex, the past and the present merge.
Brewer Dauntless Shipyard was named after the schooner Dauntless, one of the late-1800s America's Cup yachts. The yard was formed in 1917 and maintained a strong reputation building many wooden vessels until the late 1930s. Although some boat building continued, the yard's focus turned to yacht maintenance, which it continues to do today.