08/15/14 6:00am
08/15/2014 6:00 AM
John Mangieri (Credit: Rachel Young)

Gian Mangieri, owner of Laurel Creek Landscape Nursery in Laurel, expressing his concerns about a historic designation along Main Road. (Credit: Rachel Young)

The mood was pleasant when a meeting commenced Thursday evening at Jamesport Meeting House to discuss a proposal to create a National Register Historic District on six miles of Main Road stretching from Aquebogue to Laurel.

Residents at the meeting, which included several Riverhead and Southold Town politicians, listened from the building’s historic pews as Richard Wines, chair of Riverhead’s landmarks preservation committee, presented a short slideshow featuring photos of well-known historic properties, like Modern Snack Bar in Aquebogue. He explained that being listed with the National Register provides certain economic incentives, namely a 20 percent tax credit to homeowners doing restoration work on their properties.

Kathleen LaFrank and Jennifer Betsworth of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation gave an overview of the Register, which was founded in 1966 and is the official list of historic properties that have been recognized as significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering or culture.

After the presentations were given, the floor was opened for questions.

And that’s when Gian Mangieri of Laurel stood up.


10/02/13 12:15pm
10/02/2013 12:15 PM
RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Volunteers from Jamesport landscape company Kaiser Maintenance will clear some trees surrounding The Witch's Hat on Main Road in Aquebogue Thursday.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Volunteers from Jamesport landscape company Kaiser Maintenance will clear some trees surrounding The Witch’s Hat on Main Road in Aquebogue Thursday.

The town’s landmarks preservation chair, Richard Wines, has recruited a group of volunteers from Jamesport landscape company Kaiser Maintenance, which will donate tree removal services Thursday to the Witch’s Hat, a curiously shaped local landmark built in 1927 on Main Road in Aquebogue so-named for its hexagonal cedar-shingled spire.

“This is the first step we need to undertake for the restoration of the Witch’s Hat,” said Mr. Wines, also a member of Save Main Road, a community group dedicated to maintaining the rural character of Main Road. ”There’s a huge tree hanging right over the building and kind of crowding it out in one corner, and there are other trees in front of the building on its west side that are blocking it from view.”

In addition to Kaiser, Mr. Wines said other members of Save Main Road – a community organization aiming to maintain the rural character of Route 25 – have also recruited other volunteers to contribute to the effort.

Mr. Wines, who lives in Jamesport, said Kaiser Maintenance has already taken steps to kill the poison ivy surrounding the dilapidated wooden structure, which was once a roadside stand that sold gas, candy and cigarettes to motorists. It was named an official town landmark in 1987.

A Landmarks Preservation Commission document states that the Witch’s Hat was built in the late 1920s by Henry Flemming, an English immigrant and machinist who was around 70 years old at the time of construction.

“It was apparently kind of a retirement project for him,” said Mr. Wines. He speculates the stand was designed to resemble a witch’s hat so that it would attract passing motorists.

Mr. Flemming appears to have died soon after construction was completed because the 1930 federal census lists his widow, Lena Flemming’s, occupation as “Owner, candy and cigarette store.”

Years later, Mr. Wines said, the roadside stand was used to sell landscape shrubs. It has been unoccupied since the 1960s and was last restored sometime in the 1970s. The Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Commission hopes to nominate the Witch’s Hat, along with the rest of historic Main Road, to the National Register of Historic Places, he said.

“There will be no additional restrictions or regulations for property owners if [the Witch’s Hat] is designated a national landmark but federal rehabilitation tax credits may be available to owners of historic buildings along Main Road,” said Mr. Wines, who also led an effort to get downtown Riverhead on the National Register of Historic Places. It earned the recognition last September.

The Witch’s Hat has been owned for the past 23 years by by Dr. Richard Hanusch, whose veterinary practice, Aquebogue Veterinary Hospital, is located just east of the landmark.

“I really think the plans are great,” Dr. Hanusch said of restoration efforts. “I’d like to see it be totally restored.”


09/06/12 5:00am
09/06/2012 5:00 AM

National Parks Service historian Edson Beall said it simply: Owners of income-producing buildings in the downtown area just added to the National Register of Historic Places “are free to do as they please.”

“That includes tearing down the building,” he told the News-Review, in an attempt to dispel misconceptions about the federal designation.

Downtown business people and property owners are free to do what they will, he said — unless, of course, they are receiving generous state and federal tax credits to help fund historically appropriate rehab work and renovations in the district.

The historic designation carries no restrictions for people not using tax credits.

Sadly, misunderstandings concerning the designation abound, with the knee-jerk reaction being that another layer of government will soon be sticking its nose in more of the moving parts of our daily lives. These assumptions are wrong and have taken away from this notable achievement.

With the designation, 46 properties, each at least 50 years old, now qualify for tax credits ­— and more will qualify as the years go on.
The state and federal credits — which are full refunds (read: cash) from the government, not just deductions — can amount to up to 40 percent of the value of exterior improvements. That’s a huge chunk of what could amount to pricey rehab projects — projects that might never get done without the financial incentives.

What a potential boon for downtown. What a group of volunteers to get it done.

So celebrate, Riverhead. As Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, said in an interview this week. “You’re on the map!”

This milestone was accomplished thanks to the drive and knowledge of the town’s volunteer Landmarks Preservation Commission members — “and without any taxpayer dollars,” said Ms. Giglio, Town Board liaison to the commission.

Led by Richard Wines of Jamesport, commission members spent countless hours over more than three years lobbying government officials for support for the designation application, then poring over and compiling pages of information — some of it hard to find — and giving updates and presentations to the board and public, all while meeting strict deadlines.

This all for no reason other than that these volunteers recognized the huge benefits inclusion on the National Register could offer.

The commission is now pushing to get Second Street, just one block north of Main, and its intersecting streets onto the register. Everyone should support this effort.

For over two centuries, downtown Riverhead has been “an important center of business, culture, entertainment and government” on Long Island’s East End, Mr. Beall said.

Federal recognition will only help ensure that this status is preserved and that Riverhead flourishes for centuries to come.