Previously part of Ipswich, and then called Chebacco Parish, Essex, home of the fried clam and reportedly where it was invented, is known for its connection to the sea. Only 26 miles North of Boston, this rural community with its small town character, natural beauty, and reputation for being an antique shop mecca, makes this coastal New England town a widely recognized gem.
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Essex was once home to a prosperous shipbuilding trade and a leading supplier of schooners for Gloucester and other Atlantic fishing communities. Today, tourism and the shellfish industry, specifically clamming, are the main sources of income for the town. The Essex River feeds Essex Bay, along with Castle Neck River and several creeks. The landscape consists of islands including Choate Island, river front, low hills, picturesque marsh and plenty of open space. The Crane Wildlife Refuge and Stavros Reservation, even the side of the road, attracts bird watchers, landscape painters and photographers.
Essex has one public school, Essex Elementary for children from pre-k to grade 5. Recent regionalization has brought the Essex Middle School into the Manchester Essex Regional Middle School, located in the same building as both the Manchester Essex Regional High School and the previous Manchester Middle School. Construction was completed in 2009 and students began attending the new middle-high school that services Essex and Manchester by the Sea.
Conomo Point and Chebacco Lake
Conomo Point, a 100 year old summer community of seasonal cottages (once called “shanties”) and year-round homes on leased land has a long and complicated history. It consists of some of the most rare, valuable, and picturesque waterfront real estate on the North Shore.
Chebacco Lake, a 209 acre Great Pond, is home to a thriving community of residents in both Essex and Hamilton. Public use for swimming, boating and year-round fishing with a state boat ramp, seasonal events and lakeside living creates a vacation-like setting for homeowners and visitors. The family fishing derby and boat parade are a good representation of the community spirit on Chebacco.