Essex River Cultural District

Essex River Cultural District

Designated by Mass Cultural Council in 2012, Essex River Cultural District celebrates our town’s creative arts and rich heritage of shipbuilding, clamming, and farming with activities and events held year round. This walkable district in the center of town is a one-mile stretch along Main Street from Spring Street on the west end, to the old Methodist Episcopal Church (now home to Perim Lang Antiques) on the east end.

Essex River Cultural District Map
Click on the map for an interactive and printable PDF.

Explore the Walkable District
Enjoy scenic views of the Essex River and Great Marsh – with benches to relax along the way – as you stroll the causeway’s antique and specialty shops. Stop in for refreshment at one of the many restaurants, quite a few with seasonal outdoor dining. Essex’s famous clams are a local delicacy. Try each restaurant’s take on classic fried clams or vote on the best chowder in town at Fall’s annual Essex ClamFest. Several restaurants offer live music featuring local talent for Sunday brunch and evening entertainment.

Two Must-See Museums
Essex Historical Society & Shipbuilding Museum and Historic New England’s Cogswell’s Grant farmhouse and folk art museum have fascinating stories to tell:

Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum | Frame Up!More two-masted wooden fishing schooners were built in Essex than in any other place in the world. The Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum focuses on education, preservation, and study of traditional wooden shipbuilding and the community that supported it for more than 350 years. Guided tours and self-guided tours of the shipyard are offered.

Historic New England - Cogswell’s GrantA mecca for lovers of American folk art, Cogswell’s Grant has rooms overflowing with folk art portraits, painted furniture, redware, hooked rugs, weathervanes and decoys. The 18th century farmhouse is one of the only places where you can visit such a collection in the home for which it was assembled. Museum tours run June-October. Grounds of this historic farm are open year-round.

Experience the Natural Beauty of the North Shore
Get on the water by renting a boat or Stand Up Paddleboard, right in downtown Essex. Walk the marshes and woods at the stunning properties of Essex County Greenbelt, The Trustees of Reservations, and the Manchester-Essex Conservation Trust.

Attractions and Events Throughout the Town 
A self-guided Historic Essex Walking Tour connects past and present day Essex along a one-mile stretch of Main Street and Martin Street. Find a 1797 Paul Revere bell, learn about the grave robberies of 1818 and the history of how Essex became known as “America’s Antiques Capital” among other interesting stories.

Artist studios, shops, restaurants, nature trails and attractions can be found throughout the town. Cultural programs are presented at the T.O.H.P. Burnham Public Library and at the Essex Historical Society & Shipbuilding Museum.

Tour de Greenbelt - Gravel GrinderEssex signature events include Kite Day, Art in the Barn, Essex River Day, Tour de Greenbelt, Happy as a Clam 5K, Essex Police Department Car Show, Essex ClamFest: Chowder Tasting Competition, Turkey Trot and more!

Mass Cultural Council LogoEssex River Cultural District is supported in part by grants from the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

Essex River Cultural District aims to be inclusive of all artists, businesses and cultural organizations in Essex, MA. The District map will be updated periodically.

To submit a request to be added to the map,


District Management Team

KD Montgomery

Executive Director

Essex Historical Society & Shipbuilding Museum

Carmon Emery


Carmon & Co

Deborah M. French

Library Director

T.O.H.P. Burnham Public Library

Jay Havighurst



Lynne Havighurst



Robyn Kanter


Essex Cultural Council

Kimberly St. Onge


Googans Galley

Gail Pepe

Independent Artist & Printmaker

Kristen Weiss

Cape Ann Site Manager

Historic New England

Dana Woulfe


Studio Fresh