10/26/14 12:47pm
10/26/2014 12:47 PM
Witch's Hat restoration project manager Cliff Baldwin (left), Save Main Road 's Larry Simms and Richard Wines, chairman of Riverhead's Landmarks Preservation Commission. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Witch’s Hat restoration project manager Cliff Baldwin (left), Save Main Road ‘s Larry Simms and Richard Wines, chairman of Riverhead’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Near the top of a two-page flier handed out at “The Witch’s Hat” on Main Road in Aquebogue Saturday was a statement attributed to the volunteers who have spent the past year renovating the local landmark.

“It’s such a small structure; how hard could it be?” reads the quote.

While that question was certainly rhetorical, the task turned out to be somewhat more involved than originally imagined. The volunteers were rewarded for their sizable efforts when they celebrated the completion of the renovation project Saturday.

Read more about the project and see more photos from the renovation on northforker.com

09/13/14 8:00am
09/13/2014 8:00 AM
Randy Clement (left) and Mile Weber Jr. of Clement Carpentry of Jamesport working on the Witch's Hat restoration Thursday morning.

Randy Clement (left) and Mike Weber Jr. of Clement Carpentry of Jamesport working on the Witch’s Hat restoration Thursday morning.

The curiously shaped “Witch’s Hat” in Aquebogue is getting a much-needed makeover thanks to donations from area businesses and volunteers.

Spearheaded by the Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Commission, along with the Save Main Road preservation advocacy group, the roadside structure — named an official town landmark in 1987 — will be restored back to its original specifications.

The stand was built in 1926 by Henry and Lena Flemming, and used to sell gas, candy, cigarettes, and eventually ice cream to motorists from the 1930’s to 1970.  (more…)

10/13/13 1:00pm
10/13/2013 1:00 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Volunteers with the community advocacy group Save Main Road work on restoring the Witch's Hat in Aquebogue Saturday afternoon.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Volunteers with the community advocacy group Save Main Road work on restoring the Witch’s Hat in Aquebogue Saturday afternoon.

Just in time for Halloween, Aquebogue’s historic “Witch’s Hat” got a bit of a touchup Saturday afternoon.

Volunteers with the community group “Save Main Road” spent the afternoon pulling off old shingles, clearing out debris and throwing away garbage as part of the ongoing restoration to the former roadside stand.

The Witch’s Hat — so called because of its pointed roof and strange shape — was built in 1927, and once sold gas, candy and cigarettes to drivers. The building was named a town landmark in 1987, but had fallen into disrepair.

Earlier this month, Jamesport-based landscape company Kaiser Maintenance cleared away trees at the building’s site. On Saturday, volunteers began to clean away years worth of rotted shingles and dirt that accumulated on the structure.

As some used hammer to tear away at the pine wood on the roof, other volunteers dove inside the Hat, and turned up an old pice sign and a wooden piece of artwork buried in the dust. Next Saturday, volunteers will return to the Hat to finish the job, so that the scope of the renovations to restore the building can be completed.

psquire@timesreview.com

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.”

ryoung@timesreview.com