Preston House & Hotel expands to neighboring 117-year-old Howell House


The historic Howell House on East Main street in Riverhead has transformed into a slate of hotel rooms in collaboration with the Preston House & Hotel located next door.

Builder Joe Petrocelli acquired the Howell House property in 2017, and in the years that followed, decided to use the property as an extension of one of his many Riverhead businesses: the Preston House & Hotel.

“Because the Preston Hotel is so busy during peek season, we just figured it made sense for us to open five additional hotel rooms,” said Jennifer Petrocelli, operating owner of the hotel. “We’re looking forward to it. It’s been in the making [many years].”

The five forthcoming hotel rooms, which Petrocelli said will be available for stays in October, were designed in contrast to the Preston House.

“We went very modern with the Preston Hotel,” Petrocelli said. “As far as the Howell House at the Preston Hotel, we wanted to stay very historical, keeping with the early 1900s … time frame. So when you walk in, it’s going to be very old world but still very clean cut lines — very minimal and very different from the Preston Hotel.”

This adherence to history will be showcased through the original hardwood flooring and fireplaces, according to the Preston House & Hotel’s Facebook post regarding the renovation. Petrocelli and Kelly Shauger, principal of Eave + Arbor Design, also incorporated early 20th century styles into their designs for the hotel.

“You might see a little bit of art deco,” Petrocelli said. “Downstairs in the cellar, we’re opening a private event space … that’s going to be very dark and very dramatic. A lot of gold and maroon velvet, a very 1920’s flapper-style, art deco sort of feel.”

More hotels in Riverhead’s future

Joe Petrocelli is a well-known figure on the East End. In addition to restoring the Preston and Howell houses, he restored the 172-year-old East Lawn building on East Main Street and co-founded the Long Island Aquarium.

Earlier this year, Riverhead Town Board named the J. Petrocelli Development Associates as master developer of the new town square. Current plans, unveiled this past April, among other developments, call for another 84-hotel rooms in a four-story structure.

The Howell House’s quintet of hotels, the latest in the J. Petrocelli portfolio, were designed to accommodate wedding parties or similarly large groups who could benefit from renting out an entire house. The first floor will boast four studio-style hotel rooms, while the top floor, dubbed ‘the attic,’ is a suite boasting a full kitchen and living room space, according to Jennifer Petrocelli.

Another expansion: the Preston House food truck

The Howell House news follows another new addition to the hotel earlier this summer: the Preston House food truck. The Preston House introduced the community to its mobile eatery in July at the first Alive on 25 event of the 2022 season.

Jennifer Petrocelli said the truck was envisioned as a source of high-quality street food available for street fairs, private events and daily for Riverhead residents and visitors at the Howell House, where it operates Thursday to Sunday, from 11:30 a.m. – 5vp.m.

“For those visiting the Long Island Aquarium, which is directly across the street, there’s really nothing in the area as far as high end street food,” she said. “It’s definitely good for the aquarium visitors, whether it be before visiting the aquarium or after there’s something for everyone for adults and kids with healthy options with some fun options.”

For now, she added, the hotel’s plan is to keep the truck open through October, weather permitting.

The truck’s appetizer list includes such standard fare as chicken fingers with French fries and fish & chips, as well as dishes uncommon to the food truck game, including the octopus salad with grilled roasted peppers, crispy potato, lemon and herbs and calamari. There’s also gyros, tacos, smash burgers, rice bowls and an array of desserts, including the Belgian sugar waffle and doughnut holes.

Top photo: Howell House (Preston House & Hotel / Facebook)