Riverhead officials and members of the members of the Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Commission had two things to celebrate Tuesday morning.
First, they unveiled the first of 20 new historic markers promoting the town’s downtown historic district, which they hope will grab visitors’ attention and spur economic activity. But they also celebrated the recent addition of the Riverhead Main Street Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places.
The new sign is located at the corner of Maple Avenue and East Main Street, in front of the Old Chase Bank Building that now houses The Riverhead Project restaurant, where attendees gathered Tuesday.
“It is new day in history in downtown Riverhead,” said Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, the town board's liaison to the preservation commission, after asking for a moment of silence in recognition of the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Commission chairman Richard Wines said the New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation Department sent a letter on Aug. 17 noting the designation was official.
The new district on the National Register, which is a portion of the larger town district create in 2006, runs from The Riverhead Project west to the intersection of West Main Street and Griffing Avenue.
The economic value of the area’s historic buildings was underscored by Dennis McDermott, owner of The Riverhead Project. He said the restaurant’s building, with its open spaces and “handsome” appearance, was one of the main reasons he chose to start the business in Riverhead.
Additionally, Wines noted that many of the historic buildings on Main Street are occupied with busy establishments.
The designation by the National Register makes available federal and state restoration tax credits that can total 40 percent of the value of exterior work.
Also in attending the day's activities was Councilman John Dunleavy, Councilman James Wooten, Councilman George E. Gabrielsen, Riverhead Business Improvement District president Raymond Pickersgill and other members of the preservation commission.