The T.O.H.P. Burnham Library is a vital resource for ideas, information and recreation for all members of the community. The library provides a common meeting place where citizens can interact. The mission of the Library is to provide information on topics of interest to the community and guidance on how to evaluate and use the information sources; to promote learning and personal growth throughout life; to support reading for pleasure, in work and school.
Thomas Oliver Hazard Perry Burnham was born in Essex in 1814, and in the mid to late 1800’s he became a successful and affluent business man in Boston. Upon his death in 1891 Mr Burnham, bequeathed $20,000 to the Town of Essex for the purpose of constructing a building which would contain a library, offices and a place of assembly for the townspeople. An additional $20,000. was placed in trust for the purchase of books.
The building itself, a design by Frank Weston, similar to the shingle style, was dedicated February 15, 1894. The lower part is built of field stones contributed by many people in town, the hall occupies the second floor, and below are offices and the library. On the tower is a four faced clock, and a ship, Santa Maria, weathervane (suitable for the ship building town) was the gift of Lamont G. Burnham of Essex and Boston who bequeathed $5000. for the weathervane.
The building underwent a renovation and was completed in 2017. An elevator, sprinklers, heating/cooling were done. A third floor was added as a large auditorium space seating over 100. The former stage was reinvented as a meeting space, and temporary office space was made permanent. The beautiful unique structure now stands grand above the marsh once again.