Just steps from the bustle of Port Jefferson’s Main Street is a residential neighborhood that takes you back in time. Century-old homes line the streets, many lovingly restored in such detail that you can almost hear the clip-clop of a horse-drawn carriage.

Built in 1885, Catherine Quinlan’s home is among them. A trustee with the Port Jefferson Historical Society, Quinlan loves her home’s charm. “The workmanship is exceptional,” she says, “with high ceilings, real wood floors and decorative moldings.”

Susan White, a real estate agent with American Real Estate Associates says these houses can’t be replicated. “They have character you can’t get at a home improvement store.” One of White’s listings is an 1886 home in Setauket, complete with original features — even an outhouse.

But charm is not all you get with an older home. Depending on where you live, there may also be the responsibility of maintaining its historic integrity. Alexandra Wolfe is director of preservation services at the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities. She says that various town and village laws guide homeowners. “They don’t prevent altering but they direct changes so that the homes maintain their historic character,” she says. There may be a historic review board, such as in Roslyn, or written right into the town’s zoning code, such as in Islip.