A farm property dating back to 1840 that was added to the National Register of Historic Places two years ago is now being proposed as the site of a retail wine shop in Jamesport.
Jayna Corlito of Hampton Bays purchased the former Daniel and Henry P. Tuthill farm at the northeast corner of Main Road and Tuthills Lane in 2013 with the goal of opening a retail wine store there.
“It was just something I always wanted to do,” she said. “Just from traveling. I went to Italy a bunch of times and I just loved the feeling of the wine shops there, and I loved the concept of being able to go somewhere that was casual but historic, and having it be an experience of learning about the wines.”
The building that houses a real estate office is believed to have been built by a cousin of James Tuthill, for whom Jamesport is named, said Richard Wines, chair of Riverhead’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. Tuthills Lane is also named after the family, who were among the earliest settlers of the area.
“Certainly that is a very significant historic property,” Mr. Wines said in an interview Tuesday.
Ms. Corlito originally had a career in finance and she began taking wine education classes a few years ago.
The 2.5-acre Tuthill property is “perfect,” she said, “because you’re right at the beginning of wine country.”
Ms. Corlito had gone before Riverhead’s planning and building departments previously, but her proposal was rejected on the grounds that it didn’t fit the property’s Rural Corridor zoning, so a public hearing before the town Zoning Board of Appeals was set up to consider a variance that would permit the use.
A retail store is a permitted use in RC zone, but only for the area from Washington Avenue to South Jamesport Avenue.
To obtain a “use variance” from the ZBA, Ms. Corlito must show that none of the uses already permitted in that zoning category will work on her property.
The ZBA originally a hearing on her proposal for last Thursday, but it was snowed out and will instead be held Thursday, March 9, at 7 p.m.
If approved, the real estate office currently operating on the site will have to relocate and that building, which was the Tuthill farmhouse, will be converted to a retail wine store with some indoor seating areas.
Another large barn behind that building, built in 1877, will be used for wine display and an in-ground potato barn on the east side of the property, which dates from the 1930s, will be used for wine storage, Ms. Corlito said.
“I also want to build a pergola outside the large frame barn for seasonal outdoor seating,” she said.
She also plans to create additional parking in the lower western part of the property.
Ms. Corlito originally planned to leave the real estate office where it is and turn the large frame barn into a retail wine shop. But that would have required a lot more work, she said.
“Everything in the farmhouse is just cosmetic work that needs to be done,” she said of the new proposal. “There’s going to be structural work that needs to be done inside the large frame barn, and the potato barn just needs a little of structural reinforcement. Most of the work will be landscaping and building out the additional parking.”
The Landmarks Preservation Commission supports preservation of the land, but does not take a position on specific applications, Mr. Wines said.
“We want to see the property preserved, and we want to see something economically viable take place there that will support the preservation,” he said. “But the commission has not taken a vote on where it stands on whether to support a specific project. That would be unusual for us, anyway.”
Photo caption: A view of the Jamesport property whose owner hopes to start a retail wine shop. (Credit: Tim Gannon)