Old ‘Riverhead News’ sign found in office’s ceiling

When Riverhead architect Martin Sendlewski began doing some work on his Roanoke Avenue office earlier this year, he came across something he wasn’t expecting.

“We demolished one of the ceilings in the back, and under the plywood that was put down in the attic, probably 30 years ago, they needed something to fill in a gap in a wood plank,” Mr. Sendlewski said. “So I’m looking, and it’s pointed at me face down, and it’s the original Riverhead News sign that was in front of this building.”

The sign was apparently used in the construction of the building’s ceiling.

The Riverhead News was one of two newspapers published in Riverhead many years ago. The other was the County Review.

The two papers merged in 1950 and became the current-day Riverhead News-Review.

Mr. Sendlewski’s office at 215 Roanoke Ave. is believed to have been built around 1840. The building, also known as the Corwin-Davis House, belonged to both B.B. Corwin and J.C. Davis. The location is within both national and town historic districts.  

According to the National Register of Historic Places, the Riverhead News — which it refers to as “the area’s Democratic paper and predecessor to the current News-Review” — was owned by Horace Williamson, “who took over the paper in 1894 and published it until his death in 1929. During his tenure at the paper, it was published and printed in the 1840s Corwin-Davis that is part of the [Second and Ostrander Historic District.]”

It says the building was owned by B.B. Corwin in 1858 and by J.C. Davis in 1873. 

Richard Wines, who heads Riverhead Town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, said it’s unclear who B.B. Corwin was, but J.C. Davis was a partner in a general store located where Dark Horse restaurant is today. The Davis family also owned a lumber yard on the Peconic River and J.C. Davis was Riverhead’s postmaster from 1877 to 1887, according to the National Register.

The National Register says the building was the Riverhead News’ office until it merged with the County Review. 

Mr. Sendlewski said he plans to salvage the sign as a memento as they continue with the demolition. 

“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “Nobody knew it was there. It’s the original sign that they had over the front building when the paper was here.”

Mr. Sendlewski, who says he’s a fan of the TV show “American Pickers,” said the sign has been in the building for years. He bought the property in 2000 according to town records.  

Once the sign is removed, Mr. Sendlewski says, he will offer it to the Riverhead News-Review.