Living & Eating on Long Island's East End 

               Excursions:  Just What Is The Witch's Hat?

My name is Monique.
I'm a 2-time Emmy Award winning TV Producer.
Having been in the business for over 15 years I've produced my share of live tv cooking segments, but never had much time to devote to cooking myself.

Last year when I got married, I moved out of New York City to the east end of Long Island, to ...wait for it...The Hamptons.

Now before you roll your eyes, there's more to the Hamptons than mansions and celebrities.

The Hamptons have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, miles of productive farmland, plus a rich clamming history that continues to this day.

When I moved out east and realized I was surrounded, not just by the bounty of the sea, but also local farms and vineyards, I couldn't wait to explore and sample my new environment.

That's what this blog is about.  Cooking, living, exploring and sharing those experiences.

You'll notice that my blog is a little of this and a little of that, kind of like a potluck meal.

I had never heard of the Witch's Hat until this past spring, when I began to see articles calling for an effort to "Save the Witch's Hat" and I was immediately intrigued. What was the Witch's Hat and where was it?

Now that it's fall and Halloween is fast approaching, the tale of the Witch's Hat seems even more appropos, or does it? You alone can decide that, bwa ha ha ha!  (Cue the scary laughter). 

I asked my husband to show me where it was, so one day while we were driving along Route 25, which goes right through the North Fork, he suddenly stopped and pulled over onto the side of the road.  "There it is", he exclaimed. 


Nestled amidst woodsy trees and brush, the Witch's Hat sits all by itself on the south side of Route 25, between Greenport and Riverhead. It's a weird-looking building, made all the more eerie due to the fact that it's fallen into serious disrepair.

"The Witch's Hat" apparently got its name from the hexagon-shaped spire that dominates the structure.  From what I've read, the building was built sometime in the1920's by Harry Flemming, an English immigrant who came to the East End and worked as a machinist.

In those days the building was called "The Lighthouse". There also appeared to have been a gas pump on the site back then as well. So for a while candy, tobacco and ice cream were sold from the Lighthouse. But by the 1930 Census Mr. Flemming appears to have passed and his wife, Lena, was listed as the sole head of the household and the owner of a cigarette and candy store.

According to local historians, years later the facility was used to sell shrubs. But since the 1960s it has remained unoccupied. Its last restoration believed to have been sometime in the 1970s.

In 1987 it was named an official Riverhead landmark. Then 23 years ago the property was purchased by Dr. Hanusch, a veterinarian, whose practice, the Aquebogue Veterinary Hospital sits just east of the building. Since then not much happened or was done to the building and the Witch's Hat fell into disrepair.

Then this spring the Aquebogue group "Save Main Road", which is working to get Route 25 named to the National Register of Historic Places, also launched an effort to save the Witch's Hat. They have the support of Dr. Hanusch, who wants to see the building restored, but couldn't afford the entire restoration project himself.

So the project began this past week as volunteers from Jamesport landscaper Kaiser Maintenance began removal of the brush surrounding the structure, which is mostly poison ivy.  Kaiser will also offer tree removal services to clear the area.

What's in store for the Witch's Hat in the future? The Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Commission hopes to nominate the building to the National Register of Historic Places. So hopefully it will be with us for a long, long time.

The Witch's Hat is located on Route 25, right outside Riverhead in Aquabogue on the way to Greenport. You can find it on the south side of the road. Watch out for traffic, as the road can get busy during rush hour.

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