For generations of Riverheaders, going to the big old house at 21 East Second Street meant only one thing: a visit with Doc Luce and the ever-present threat of having to get a shot.
Hallock Luce, who grew up on a Northville farm, built the house in 1927 as a residence and a place to practice medicine, caring for the people of Riverhead from a small wing on the east side of the building. An old fashioned general practitioner, Luce never sent a bill, instead he relied on families to pay him when and if they could.
Luce passed away in 1975 and the house was eventually sold and used as a law office until it was purchased by Itai and Sagit Vishnia and their partner Yoram Amiran last year.
The house has now returned to its roots in medicine, and on Friday afternoon a ribbon cutting was held to officially launch Solutions, a business which provides rooms designed for use solely by mental health professionals.
The concept for Solutions came from Sagit Vishnia, who is a practicing psychologist. She envisioned a place where therapists, particularly those who have just come out of school, could have a place to practice without having to invest a lot of money.
“What makes this unique is the minimal risk approach,” says Itai Vishnia, Sagit’s husband and the “business half” of the couple. “We help new ventures who don’t have the funds to start their own practices. We escort them from start to end. We have social network gatherings, professional network groups. It works quite well.”
There are 12 rooms in the house; six handicapped accessible rooms on the first floor and six more spaces on the second. All rooms were constructed with therapy in mind; they are noise insulated and are decorated with calming colors and indirect lighting.
Psychologists, art therapists, social workers and other talk therapists can lease a room for as few as one day a week.
“It isn’t a group practice,” says Sagit. “People have their own private practices here; there’s no jumping from room to room. It’s very professional.”
On hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony were Riverhead Town councilman John Dunleavy, supervisor Sean Walter and a dozen other community representatives.
Richard Wines, chairman of Riverhead’s Landmarks Preservation Committee and a former patient of Dr. Luce’s also attended.
Wines, who has been part of the nearly decade-long effort to get the area on the National Registry of Historic Places, couldn’t hide his delight at what they’d done with the old house.
“I’m a former patient of Dr. Luce,” said Wines. “He officiated at my birth and at my mother’s birth. It’s so wonderful to come here and not have to get an injection.”
Wines expressed hope that more houses in the area would be brought back to life and said that the first significant step to getting the area on the registry will take place in June.