'Save Main Road' Seeks National Register Of Historic Places Listing

Group has facilitated a historic resource survey of the structures on the historic highway.

Main Road is a treasure trove of memories.

To that end, on Sunday, Nov. 11, the Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Commission will present "Main Road: How Do We Know You?" at the Jamesport Meeting House.

Guests will have the chance to view archival images and recent photos of the area as Richard Wines, chair of the Landmarks Commission, and Cliff Baldwin, member of the "Save Main Road" community organization, tell stories about the history of Main Road and the families whose lives unfolded in the homes and businesses that dotted the byway.  

Anyone with historic photos or information about the buildings along Main Road from Aquebogue to Laurel is invited to share them at the presentation. Volunteers will be available to make scans or copies. Part of the "History at the Meeting House" series, a $5 donation is suggested to support restoration of the historic building.  

The presentation, Wines said, comes after an Historic Resource Survey of the buildings along the historic highway by the Landmarks Commission that was commenced with the help of "Save Main Road" volunteers.

The goal, Wines said, is to present the survey to the New York State Historic Preservation office; the survey must meet standards put forth by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

The hope, Wines, said, is to have Main Road placed on the National Register of Historic Places -- a designation that will bring "significant tax credits" to owners of historic properties and help ensure the structures are preserved.

"Getting Main Road onto the National Register of Historic Places would be a great way to recognize the three centuries of history represented by buildings along this corridor through Aquebogue, Jamesport and Laurel, Wines said. "Moreover, National Register designation can help promote business operating in historic structures and brings them access to federal and state restoration tax credits -- without adding any restrictions."

Wines said the area is rich with historic relevance. "Main Road, as it winds through the hamlets of Aquebogue, Jamesport and Laurel has a storied history," Wines said.

Main Road, he said, was dubbed Kings Highway in the Colonial Era; it is the oldest road in the area, "as well as the most important."

To date, Wines said, the Landmarks Commission's survey has uncovered 198 historic structures along the nearly five miles from Route 105 eastward to the Southold town line. The structures date from the early 18th century through the mid-20th centuries, and "represent three centuries  continuous development of these linear agricultural communities," Wines said.

Historical treasures, Wines said, include buildings that were standing when Benjamin Franklin came through the area in 1755, leaving milestones along the way.

Also uncovered were buildings that existed when Riverhead became a separate town, in 1792.  Other buildings, Wines said, have ties that go directly back to Riverhead's Puritan ancestors and also, that reflect decades of stories that portray the lives of Irish, Polish and other immigrants from the 19th and 20th centuries.

"The variety is wide, ranging from agricultural barns to country stores, from an early 19th century academy transformed into a house to a former church that became a fraternal lodge and then an apartment building," Wines said. "There is also a rich collection of 20th century roadside  architecture, including farm stands and gas stations from the earliest days of motoring."


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