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Riverhead gains its second downtown historic district: neighborhood north of Main Street recognized by state

File photos: Carl Corry

Downtown Riverhead has its second historic district.

The Second and Ostrander Historic District is among 22 properties, resources and districts recommended by the New York State Board for Historic Preservation for addition to the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the additions in a press release this afternoon.

“The Second and Ostrander Historic District, Riverhead – The district was downtown Riverhead’s primary residential neighborhood, growing up alongside the village’s commercial corridor from 1840, when the first houses came to newly laid-out streets, through 1958,” the governor’s press release said.

The Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Commission formally proposed nominating the area north of Main Street in April 2016 and the town board signed off on the nomination.

“It will be a shot in the arm for the neighborhood,” Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Commission chairman Richard Wines said. “It should help re-envision it by encouraging revitalization there.”

“This is a great day for downtown,” said Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who is the town board liaison to the landmarks commission.

Wines explained that the district being listed on the registry provides access to two tax credits. One is a 20-percent state tax credit for any kind of home repair or restoration project that affects the exterior and doesn’t harm the historic nature of the building. The second tax credit is a 40-percent tax credit for major renovation to a commercial or income-producing property.

The tax credits encourage buyers and encourage rehabilitation, Wines said. The designation itself imposes no restrictions on property owners, according to Wines.

“Wherever national register districts have been set up, they lead to enhanced real estate values,” Wines said.

“It fits in with the town board’s goals of rejuvenating downtown. It’s an area with many beautiful homes and an area that I know everyone wants to see good things happen,” he said.

“I hope people homeowners and business owners take advantage of the tax credits that are offered,” Giglio said.

Wines said he was “delighted” by the news, which caps “eight years of hard work by the landmarks commission.”

Putting together the nomination requires an enormous amount of work, including compiling an exhaustive inventory of the properties within the proposed district, gathering their histories, photographing them and writing a narrative.

The town was able to get the state to approve spending $27,000 of a Brownfields Opportunties Area grant awarded to Riverhead to fund the completion of inventory and establish the boundaries of the district, Giglio said. Riverhead had hired Nelson Pope and Voorhes to do the BOA study and the engineering firm dedicated some of its resources and time to assist with the work needed for the nomination.

The district primarily developed between 1840 and 1940, with some smaller-scale residential development occurring in the next two decades, up to 1958, according to the nomination. There are 239 buildings within the district, which consists of approximately 35 acres north of Main Street.

Once the state board’s recommendations are approved by the state historic preservation officer, the properties are listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and then nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, where they are reviewed and, once approved, entered on the National Register.

The remaining steps are essentially pro forma, according to Wines.


Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website. Email Denise.