When visitors enter our building on Main Road in Mattituck for the first time, they almost always marvel at what a unique office space we work in.
Built in 1988, and designed to look somewhat like an old potato barn, the building was intended to look different from most any other newsroom — both inside and out.
Former co-owner/publisher Troy Gustavson said the plan to build a Mattituck headquarters for Times/Review, northforker’s parent company, was a “difficult decision” that he believes was ultimately the right call for the company. But at the time of the move, there were certainly detractors, mainly residents and business owners in Greenport who wanted The Suffolk Times to maintain a presence in the village, where it had been based since 1857.
“We just outgrew the space at 429 Main St. in Greenport,” Mr. Gustavson said. “We had become a larger staff over a period of time. We looked very, very hard at space in Greenport, but never found anything that worked.”
Moving to the property at 7785 Main Road, which Joan and Troy Gustavson purchased in 1986 for $135,000, also allowed the company to centralize its operations in a location roughly halfway between Wading River and Orient, the bookend hamlets for our coverage area.
“Deep down, we knew that made the most sense for the company,” Mr. Gustavson said.
But if Times/Review was to build on Main Road in Mattituck, the Gustavsons wanted to make sure the new structure fit the traditional look of the area. And so the idea to make the building look like an old barn was conveyed to architect Garrett Strang of Southold. The barn motif is reflected in design features like the clerestory windows along the roof’s ridge line, vaulted ceilings, wood beams and wide-plank pine flooring.
As plans for the building took shape, the Gustavsons shared them with Richard Stein, the now-retired publisher of the Riverdale Press. They told him of their then-teenage daughter Anna’s idea to build a loft space over the mail and server rooms to serve as her father’s office.
Using a bar napkin, Mr. Stein, who studied architecture at Cornell, drew a sketch of what the office, with its many windows, should look like.
“We handed the napkin to the architect and he did it,” Mr. Gustavson recalled.
Since then, at the New York Press Association convention in Saratoga Springs, Mr. Stein often tells new Times/Review staff members about his role in giving the building its unique look.
The finished Times/Review building, which cost $750,000 to build in 1988, has more than 60 windows and seven skylights. Perhaps most notable is the semicircular window in the front roof peak — also Anna Gustavson’s suggestion — which was the inspiration for the company’s former logo.
Windows are so prevalent in the Times/Review building that each corner of the office receives at least some natural light, with a few exceptions, including two offices that once served as darkrooms for staff photographers.
While the former darkrooms are now occupied by photographer Barbaraellen Koch and sports editor Bob Liepa, they are not the only spaces to see a change in use in the last 25 years. The area currently dedicated to the company’s ad sales team was originally built as a separate office to be leased to an outside company, but plans changed as the Times/Review staff grew to more than 40 employees. The large open area at the back of the building, known as “the flats,” was once used to lay out pages by hand in the pre-digital age. Today, that area is used to review the pages before they’re sent electronically to the printer.
The Gustavsons had toured a pair of newspaper offices on Long Island — The Press News Group building in Southampton and the Long Island Business News in Ronkonkoma — for ideas on how to design the production area. They ultimately settled on an area similar to the larger production space in Southampton.
“If you were building today, I think that’s one area that would be done differently,” Mr. Gustavson said.
Another part of the building that gets a lot of attention from visitors is the waiting room, with its “tea-colored” countertop and display of 19th-century printing equipment left over from the early days of The Suffolk Times.
Joan Gustavson said the front counter was constructed by local craftsmen Rory Klinge and Vince Jolliver, who mixed together a bunch of different varieties of tea and asked if the publishers liked the color. They did.
Construction on the building, which includes a 6,000-square-foot stand-up basement where our historical archives are stored, took less than six months, with construction manager Dave Ricereto bringing it in on deadline and under budget, Mr. Gustavson recalled.
Of course, some of the property’s more notable touches were added after construction.
The rear parking lot has served for more than 20 years as the home of the Mattituck Platform Tennis Club, whose members play on a court Mr. Gustavson had disassembled in Mendham, N.J., and trucked to the office, where it was rebuilt, lights and all.
Then there’s the giant tarpon mounted on the back wall, which keeps an eye on “the flats” while our staff checks the final pages each week. Mr. Gustavson said he purchased that from the Greenport Club, a social group he belonged to, when it moved from its home base in the former Mills building at the corner of Front and Main streets.
After every tour our company gives to Scouts looking to earn their media badges, the kids usually have just one question for our staff: “Where’d you get the fish?”