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An old house with a new story


After a four-year restoration, the B. Frank Howell House opened its doors this past February as an extension of the neighboring Preston House and Hotel. Guests of the boutique hotel can now experience the rich historic character of this residential retreat by booking one of its five newly restored rooms.

Constructed in 1905, the Howell House was originally created as a residence for B. Frank Howell, a former president of Suffolk County National Bank and three-term Riverhead supervisor, and his wife, Ida Bennett. Since then, it has had a series of lives, serving as a home, a doctor’s office and legal offices before a long vacancy. The house has since been revived by downtown Riverhead developers J. Petrocelli Development. Kelly Shauger, a Southold-based architect, and principal of Eave + Arbor Architecture and Design, worked alongside owner Joe Petrocelli to lead the restoration effort.

“I’m thrilled to be involved with the renovation of Howell House but more importantly, honored to be a part of the team working to revive these historic houses back to vibrant elements of downtown Riverhead, as they once were, Shauger said. “Our goal for the Howell House restoration was to preserve the building while renewing it as a useful and beautiful part of the community for many more years to come.” 

Photos by David Benthal

In contrast to the modern style of the Preston Hotel, The Howell House was designed with elements of old-world charm. A tribute to its early history, the home features art deco-inspired decor with bold patterns, jewel-toned walls, and hand-picked vintage pieces. “It was important to my family to keep as much of its history as possible,” explained hotel owner Jennifer Petrocelli. “By highlighting the original staircase, hardwood floors, hardware, windows and stonework, you can sense a piece of the early 1900s as soon as you step into the building.”

The exterior 

The front of the three-story home, faces Main Street, overlooking the Long Island Aquarium. It’s exterior features the original 1905 wraparound porch and a spacious lawn, stylishly adorned with Edison bulb string lights and mahogany picnic tables for gatherings. “We’re definitely going to be hosting quite a few events throughout the summer and utilizing that space,” said Jennifer Petrocelli. 

The living room

Visitors to the historic home are greeted by a warm and inviting communal living room on the first floor embellished with flowing white curtains, plush sherpa armchairs, a vintage carpet and an elegant leather couch. There, guests can get cozy and sit around the home’s original fireplace, which has been restored to its former glory. 

The dining room 

A stunning chandelier made of hanging scalloped glass serves as the centerpiece of this room, casting a warm glow over the green velvet chairs and large dining room table. Originally used as a dining room at the turn of the century, the space pays homage to the period with vintage Strawberry Thief pattern curtains, bold and brassy accent pieces and dramatic lighting. Also featuring a small coffee bar, the dining room is available for guests to use during their stay and can be rented out as a meeting space. 

The parlor

Natural light radiates through the bay windows of the parlor room, a first-floor space designed with bridal parties and small gatherings in mind. “We have so many brides and wedding parties with us at the Preston Hotel, so it just made sense for us to convert a space for these guests to have a nice, aesthetically pleasing place to get ready in,” said Jennifer Petrocelli. The room, styled with funky globe chandeliers and bold patterned wallpaper, is equipped with a floor-to-ceiling mirror, two chaise lounges and a shuffleboard table.

The studio suites

The studio suites blend modern amenities and old-world charm. The rooms feature king-sized beds surrounded by an art deco-inspired color scheme and unique artwork, each handpicked to create a warm and comforting ambiance. Each suite also includes a private bathroom outfitted with high ceilings, light-colored marble walls and floors and lavish toiletries. 

The attic suite

Unlike the rich, dramatic color schemes found in the rest of the house, the sun-filled attic suite feels light and airy with elements of minimalistic design. The 1,000-square-foot space is ideal for longer stays and a bigger group; consisting of two queen-sized bedrooms, a spacious living room with a pullout couch, a full bathroom and full kitchen with light-colored walls and countertops.