History of Essex Junction
Originally part of the Essex Township decreed by the English Crown in the 18th century, modern Essex Junction traces its roots back to a time shortly after the American Revolution when Ira Allen, brother of the more famous Ethan Allen, constructed a dam at a bend and natural water fall in the Winooski River between what is now Essex Junction and Williston. A saw mill adjacent to the dam sent logs down the Winooski to Lake Champlain. The falls, known as Hubbells Falls, became a site of early industry and economic growth in the Essex Town area.
An oil painting of a later version of the dam titled “Hubbells Falls in Essex Junction” adorns the lobby of the Vermont Statehouse. Today, Green Mountain Power Corp. operates a hydroelectric station at the site of the dam.
A short distance from Hubbells Falls, two roadways connecting Burlington to points east and north formed an intersection known today as Five Corners. The Village's municipal office building, Lincoln Hall, began as an early 19th century tavern and rest station at the intersection.
By the 1850s, the land adjacent to the road intersection formed a railroad junction connecting six different lines, including the Burlington to Northfield rail line constructed by Governor Charles Paine. When a rail station was built to accommodate passengers, the area around the station was formally named Painesville. However, conductors on trains pulling into the station would announce to passengers that they were approaching Essex Junction, to let them know that this was the place to change trains.
The railroad commerce and falls spurred development in the area and the population grew. In 1873, residents built the Park Street School, Vermont’s first brick schoolhouse. The need to build additional schools and provide municipal services that the surrounding town of Essex, still largely undeveloped and could not provide, prompted residents to petition the Vermont Legislature to allow them to incorporate their community into a village. In 1892, the Legislature approved a new charter for the Village of Essex Junction. In doing so, the Legislature continued a uniquely Vermont practice of allowing developing areas of former townships to become incorporated municipalities with their own taxing authority. Incorporated villages could raise taxes to pay for their own services without assistance from their affiliated towns.
Essex Junction’s incorporation as a distinct municipality and school district was quickly followed by a period of expansive growth:
In 1893 the Essex Junction Volunteer Fire Department was established and electricity was brought to Essex Junction.
In 1895 trolley service was brought to Essex Junction from Burlington.
In 1896 the Essex Junction police department was created.
In 1899 the Essex Junction library was created.
In 1900 public water was made available and in 1914 the Essex Junction water district was formed.
In 1912 another large brick school was constructed on Prospect Street which later served as Essex Junction High School and now serves as the Fleming Elementary School.
In 1922, the Champlain Valley Exposition relocated to Essex Junction. Today, the Champlain Valley Exposition hosts Vermont's largest agricultural fair and numerous events throughout the year.
In 1926 the Essex Junction sanitation department was created. Also in 1926, Samuel Brownell built and donated the present library building. Two additions to the Brownell Library were completed in 1970 and 2001.
In 1953, the Maple Street Park was opened and the Essex Junction Recreation and Parks Department was created. In 2000, the pool was removed and replaced with a children's pool with water slide, a six lane lap pool with diving boards and a multi-purpose recreation building.
In 1955, the Village hired its first professional manager.
1957 marked the arrival of IBM.
In 1970, Essex Junction finished construction of the Essex Junction Educational Center and Vocational Center, which later became Essex High School and the Center for Technology, Essex. In 1973, an indoor skating rink opened at the Educational Center. In 1994, due to growth in the Essex Town population and their need for a high school, Essex Junction and Essex Town formed the Union 46 School District to allow shared jurisdiction over the schools. They are now the largest high school and secondary technical school in Vermont.
In 1983, Essex Junction constructed the present wastewater treatment facility to serve the tri-town communities of Essex Junction, Essex, and Williston. The facility has won national recognition for quality and energy efficiency. It recently underwent a major reconstruction to meet the needs of the growing communities.
In 2013, the Village of Essex Junction entered into an agreement with the Town of Essex to share a Manager.
In 2015, GlobalFoundries took over the IBM facility.
Essex Junction is an enjoyable place to live, work and play. In the whole world, there is only one Essex Junction!