The thriving hamlet of Whallonsburg

Established over 200 years ago in one of the most scenic locations in the Lake Champlain Region, Whallonsburg continues to this day as one of the most active and thriving communities in this area. Situated in the southern part of the Town of Essex on NYS Route 22, Whallonsburg's origins date back to the early 1800s, when the hamlet, named after Reuben Whallon, produced furniture and other wood products. Whallon was one of the judges of the Essex County Court and a Member of Congress and conducted extensive business and manufacturing operations in the area. In the early 1900s, a fire devastated several buildings in the hamlet, including the furniture manufacturing operations, since then, Whallonsburg has undergone a significant transformation, arriving at its present state, a vibrant community shaped by creativity and connection.

Fun fact: Whallonsburg is a hamlet within the Town of Essex. New York State law doesn't specifically define "hamlet", although town governments commonly use the term to identify communities and neighborhoods within towns. More than the average hamlet, Whallonsburg is home to some of the most spectacular views in the Lake Champlain Region. A scenic drive through the area includes magnificent views of the Adirondacks in New York, the sparkling waters of Lake Champlain, and the Green Mountains of Vermont, with a few choice spots yielding views of the lake and both mountain ranges. In addition, Whallonsburg is centered in the heart of one of the best hiking areas of the northeast. Efforts to complete a new Whallonsburg Trail are in progress. When completed, the new trail will connect the hamlet of Whallonsburg to the Champlain Area Trails trail network, linking Whallonsburg to the ever-expanding network of “Hike the Lake” trails.

Read on to find out what's happening in Whallonsburg, a hidden gem of the Lake Champlain Region, and discover what's sparkling in this wonderful little community.

Whallonsburg Grange Hall

At the crossroads of NYS Route 22 and Whallons Bay Road, you'll find the Whallonsburg Grange Hall. Built in 1915, the Whallonsburg Grange Hall served the community for many decades as a gathering place for the hamlet, and many of the region's current residents have stories and memories of experiences at the Grange, having attended weddings, community suppers, and other events that took place in this facility over the years. After closing its doors in the mid-1990s and being shuttered for years, this historic century-old structure has undergone a grand restoration, and been transformed into a vibrant arts and community center. Today, the Grange once again stands as the Whallonsburg community's celebrated gathering space, hosting community functions such as annual meetings and offering a range of events, including concerts, plays, workshops and classes, and even a film series. The Grange also invites local writers to give presentations and to speak about their work. In a recently engaging and enlightening presentation, Adirondack author Lorraine Duvall, a resident of nearby Keene, spoke about her new memoir, Where the Styles Brook Waters Flow: The Place I Call Home. In Lorraine's book, she details life in the Styles Brook Valley, and her special relationship with land, and gives an insider's view of what it was like to live through Hurricane Irene and the storm's aftermath. 

The Grange is available to rent for private events as well, making it a wonderful place to celebrate birthdays, weddings, family reunions, business meetings, craft clubs, and more. A certified commercial kitchen within the facility is available to rent for catering, cooking, canning, commercial food production, and farm and community projects. Here, continues the long tradition of community connection and memory-making in this celebrated community space!

A view of the Whallonsburg Grange Hall in Whallonsburg NY on an early spring evening

Whitcomb's Arts

For a wonderfully inspiring experience, and to truly get a sense of the spirit of community existing here in Whallonsburg, pay a visit to Whitcomb's Arts, located at 1598 NYS Route 22 and within steps from the Whallonsburg Grange Hall. Built in 1920, the century-old building has quite a long history, serving as Whitcomb's Garage for many years and recently, being lovingly and painstakingly revived in an incredible effort by members of the Whallonsburg community. This renovated building and greenspace now exists as a home to resident artists in woodworking, pottery, and furniture building/design, and hosts an inviting and comfortable community room for visitors. Drop in to view the art exhibition on display, connect to the Wi-Fi and check in with the outside world, shop the retail store, or sip a coffee or tea and warm up by the wood stove on a chilly day. Workshops, storytelling with open mic nights, and other events take place regularly at Whitcomb's, with new items added frequently, so be sure to make room on your calendar for a visit!

A display wall containing an art installation in Whitcomb's Arts

River & Rails Market and Deli

From Whitcomb's, a short walk past the fork in the road leads you to River & Rails Market and Deli, at 870 Whallons Bay Road, between the Bouquet River and the train tracks. This little gem is a favorite of locals and travelers alike and a stop you won't want to miss. Offering much more than just a quick bite, River & Rails houses a market and deli, a general store, and exists as a hub for connecting with the welcoming Whallonsburg community. Pop in for a fantastic selection of sandwiches, soups, and daily specials, or swing by to chat with some friendly faces. Need a snack or a beverage? Did you forget a key ingredient for tonight's supper or a need to stock up on a few basics? River & Rails has you covered! And don't leave without treating yourself to some freshly baked goodies — the selection of cupcakes, muffins, cookies, and beyond is simply irresistible! Trust us, once you've experienced the charm and delicious food being served up at River & Rails, it will become a regular stop on your way through Whallonsburg.

A view of the front face of River and Rails Market and Deli in Whallonsburg

Champlain Peony Company

A quick half mile from the center of Whallonsburg, there's a gem of a business thriving in the area. Head over to Champlain Peony Company, located at 1502 NYS Route 22 in Essex (the former site of Essex Ice Cream). It's super easy to locate, smack dab on the main route leading to the Essex Ferry Terminal, so, if you're making the lake crossing, it makes sense to build a little extra time into your schedule to make a stop here. Swing by the Route 22 shop to soak in the delightful mishmash of peonies, gardening goodies, guitars, vintage instruments, and more that await you. And guess what? It's all been curated by – wait for it – classic car buffs! Yup, you read that right! The crew at Champlain Peony Company has woven together a tapestry of interests and curiosities that makes for a truly one-of-a-kind destination in the area. And if that's not enticing enough, guess what else is housed in this space? 22 Brew, serving up some of the finest espressos around! Pop in to chat about peonies and gardening, browse the farm store, and grab a specialty coffee. Trust us, you won't regret it!

The porch of the Champlain Peony Company in Essex NY, with a brown and white dog and pots of flowers
Photo Courtesy of Champlain Peony Company

Of course, when you're done exploring Whallonsburg, there's always the opportunity to explore more around the Lake Champlain Region by way of shoppingdining, and general sightseeing. (Or go on a search for Champ, everyone's favorite lake monster!) Keep an eye on the Lake Champlain Region events calendar for updates, and enjoy a happy and safe exploration of Whallonsburg!


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