It was the site of countless weddings, proms and bar mitzvah celebrations. Governors spoke there, and political candidates schmoozed there. But what's left of the Huntington Townhouse -- the iconic catering hall on Jericho Turnpike that closed in 2007 -- will soon become just a pile of rubble.
Today marks the official groundbreaking for a home improvement store on the site, which has become a weedy eyesore since the facility was sold to Lowe's four years ago.
At one point the Townhouse, which occupied about 100,000 square feet on roughly 20 acres, touted itself as the "largest catering hall in the United States."
The scale of the facility is complicating the demolition that began last month, said Carmine Martuscello, director of marketing for Racanelli Construction, the Melville general contracting firm building the Lowe's on the site.
The Huntington Townhouse began life in the 1950s as Gerard's, turning into the Huntington Town House roughly a decade later.
Newspaper clippings from that era offer lavish descriptions of the hall, including a 22-foot-wide crystal chandelier and a "tinkling Hawaiian waterfall." It was such an institution that it even kept the same phone number -- HA7-8485 -- since at least the 1960s until it closed.
Caterer Rhona Silver bought the Town House in 1997 and ran it for 10 years, dubbing it the New Huntington Townhouse, before selling to Lowe's. Silver was not available for comment.
The old building and its grounds still hold memories among some Long Islanders.
"It certainly is a well-known part of the community," Huntington Town spokesman A.J. Carter said. "It helped give Huntington some identification. It drew people to Huntington from not only across Long Island, but also New York City."
Vicki Colacicco, marketing and business development manager with Scotto Brothers, a large Long Island catering and hospitality firm, said the facility "was such a landmark for so long, and a respected venue. There are so many people who got married there. It's very sad to see it come down."