ESSEX-Six Willsboro Central School students have completed a video project detailing the history of the Essex Inn, and the interviews are being used in a short documentary that will be featured at an upcoming public screening.
The oral history project was organized by College For Every Student, a non-profit organization that works to place students in colleges.
"In many ways it's like a graduate course, never mind an undergraduate course, in terms of its rigor," Rick Dalton, CFES president said.
The high school students involved were John Pollock, Clayton Cross, John Fine-Lease, Tayler Strong, Cody Sayward, and Dakoda Latford. They began by visiting the town historian, who gave them ideas regarding community elders who might have stories to tell of the Inn.
Latford, who moved to the area about five years ago, said he didn't know much about Essex before getting involved in the project. He didn't, for instance, know that the town had been a big trading port.
"I got to do this project and see the whole (Essex Inn) building," Latford said. "It was pretty amazing."
The subject was chosen because Dalton and his wife had purchased the Inn about a year and a half ago. CFES is moving its national headquarters from Cornwall, Vt. to Essex, according to Dalton. "We love the community," Dalton said. "We love the area."
Ultimately the students interviewed 10-12 individuals, including Morris Glen, Dalton said. The students' research brought them to the local courthouse to look at deeds.
Strong said the robbery connected to the Inn was the most interesting aspect of the project for her. Fine-Lease said the ghost stories he heard about the location captured his imagination.
The project took about four months, according to Dalton. During which time, Latford jokingly said they spent "a trillion" hours on it. His peers more realistically estimated they invested about 50-60 hours into the project. They helped edit the film.