Demolition of the Norton House on Dec. 9. Photo: Peter Blasl

Demolition of the 19th Century building on East Main Street known as the Norton House got underway today.

The circa 1855 building, once a blacksmith shop serving area shipyards, had historic significance and the Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Commission had asked for it to be relocated and preserved.

A four-story apartment building is slated to be built on the site. The developer agreed to provide up to $70,000 to help fund the relocation.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission suggested relocating the house to town-owned property across the street, currently a portion of a municipal parking lot, between two other historic homes, the recently restored Howell House and the Tuthill-Mangano Funeral Home. But the town could not fund the cost of repairing and renovating the home, estimated at $200,000-$300,000.

Bob Castaldi, owner of the former firehouse on Second Street offered to take on the project if the town would have it moved to his property.

Ultimately that proved cost-prohibitive and logistically nearly impossible, said Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who worked on making the move happen.

The building would have to be brought up Main Street to Roanoke and then north on Roanoke to Third Street. The move would have required the removal of utility poles and traffic lights, Giglio said. Electric and gas service would have to be interrupted to properties along the way for two days, she said.

And the move would have cost the town $160,000, she said.

“It was a nightmare,” Giglio said. “I tried my best to make it happen but it became clear it wasn’t possible.”

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