There used to be more to North Country Road than meets the eye.
State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) discussed the history and importance of Long Island’s Main streets like North Country Road during the Three Village Community Trust’s 11th annual celebration Nov. 18. Around 80 residents attended the event, which helps raise awareness of various conservation or preservation topics.
Cynthia Barnes, president of the group, said the event also helps residents understand the community better. This year, highway and street preservation was the topic of the evening.
According to guest speaker Englebright, in the early 1600s the king of England ordered the construction of North Country Road otherwise known as Route 25A or Main Street. Christian Avenue was once part of Main Street before North Country Road was developed further. Englebright said North Country Road is the oldest road in the community and it is one of many structures that help define the area.
Speaking about the streets in the neighborhood, Englebright said, “They are also fragile and can be lost and in doing so we can lose part of who we are.”
While change is inevitable as time progresses, the goal is to remember and preserve the history of the locale. Englebright added that many roads residents use are some of the oldest roads in the area. He didn’t specify which roads in particular but said that those living in the community don’t always realize the small changes made to the area over time.
With development pressures and gentrification it’s easy for a community to lose its history. With the trust’s annual celebration, Englebright hoped to bring awareness to the history of local roadways, and help continue preservation efforts.
“We have a tradition in this community of preserving our heritage and trying to maintain that quality of our overall community through preservation and adaptive rescue of repurposed historic buildings,” Englebright said. “[Preservation efforts have] happened here more than almost anywhere else I could think of.”
For his past 32 years as an elected official, Englebright fought and continues to fight to preserve historic neighborhoodsincluding the roadways. In light of his preservation efforts over the years the trust not only invited Englebright to make a presentation at the event, but also honored him for his service and his support of the trust and its work.
The assemblyman has helped preserve many historic sites including the Davis Town Meeting House in Coram. The exterior of the house was renovated but the interior was left in shambles. Unused buildings are typically targeted. In order to preserve the 1750s-built house, Englebright supported a grant to help the Davis Town Meeting House Society cater to the building’s interior. The grant is one of many the assemblyman has advocated during his time in public office.
“We’re very lucky to have an assemblyman or an elected official with not just a vision for this community, but he’s actually able to implement [these visions] in various ways and inspire other people to help him,” Barnes said in a phone interview.