In 1772, the Quaker brothers, John, Andrew and Joseph Ellicott of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, chose the picturesque wilderness upstream from Elk Ridge Landing to establish a flour mill. The brothers helped revolutionize farming in this area by persuading farmers to plant wheat instead of tobacco, and by introducing fertilizer to revitalize the depleted soil. Charles Carroll was one of the first and the most influential converts from tobacco to wheat. It was to Carroll’s estate that the Ellicott brothers built the first part of a road that was later to become the National Road, America’s first interstate highway.
The Ellicotts made significant contributions to the area and the era. They helped create Ellicott’s Mills, one of the greatest milling and manufacturing towns in America at that time. They built roads, bridges and a wharf in Baltimore, introduced the wagon brake and championed plaster as a fertilizer, erected iron works, a furnace, rolling mills, schools, a meeting house, shops and beautiful granite houses.
In 1830, Ellicott’s Mills became the first terminus of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad outside Baltimore. The old station, which stands today as a museum, has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The famous race between Peter Cooper’s iron engine, the Tom Thumb, and a horse-drawn carriage took place at Relay on the return trip from Ellicott’s Mills in August of 1830. Even though the horse won the race due to a broken drive belt, steam engines steadily improved, and the railroad became a vital link in the town’s economy.
By 1861, Ellicott’s Mills was a prosperous farming and manufacturing area, and the site of the courthouse when the Howard District of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, was so designated in 1839. Howard County, Maryland, became an official independent jurisdiction in 1851. In 1867, a city charter was secured for Ellicott’s Mills, and the name was changed to “Ellicott City.” The only chartered city in the county, Ellicott City lost its charter in 1935 and was designated an historic district by the county in 1973. As of the 2000 Census, Ellicott City surpassed Towson, Maryland as the largest unincorporated county seat in the state.
Ellicott City may well be one of the most haunted small towns on the east coast. Several mansions and places around Town are known far and wide for having strange and disturbing occurrences.
Braving that, our walking tour will start at the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin, the oldest surviving residential structure in Ellicott City, now a living history center with abundant parking...
Thomas Isaac Log Cabin
8398 Main Street
This is the oldest surviving residential structure in Ellicott City. Originally located on Merryman Street, the circa 1780 building, known as the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin was donated to Historic Ellicott City, Inc. by the Stanton family, in the interest of preserving it. The cabin was dismantled in 1980, stored by the County at Centennial Park and reassembled on its new site on the National Road at the corner of Main Street and Ellicott Mills Drive in 1987.
The similar building behind it was originally a private residence from the early 1800s that was used briefly as a courthouse for the Howard District of Anne Arundel County. Together the two buildings offer historical exhibits and living history experiences.
ON THE HILL ACROSS THE STREET.
St Luke A.M.E. Church
8411 Main Street
St. Lukes’s was one of ten churches established for African American congregations in Howard County, established in 1881. The congregation moved into this building in 1890. The Ellicott City Colored School further up Main Street was built around 1880,
TURN LEFT AND WALK EAST ON MAIN STREET.
Ellicott City Volunteer Fire Department Building
8390 Main Street
This was the headquarters of the Howard County Fireman’s Association, incorporated 1927.
Ellicott Mills Brewery
8308 Main Street
The old Talbot Lumber Company building, now home to Ellicott Mills Brewery, dates to 1885. With its heavy stone geometry and round arches it is one of the buildings in Town to feature Richardsonian Romanesque details.
Federal-style stone building
southeast corner of Hill Street and Main Street
Between 1790 and 1820 the most popular architectural style was Federal that featured delicate detailing and elaborate doorways with fanlights above and sidelights. In Ellicott city, however, the Quaker influence dictated narrow, unadorned entrances. Although shutters were a common Federal period adornment, Ellicott City’s builders rarely used them.
TURN LEFT ON COURT AVENUE.
8376 Court Avenue
The house on the hill is a Queen Anne style home from the 1890s.
TURN LEFT ON LIBERTY STREET.
Howard County Courthouse
8360 Court Avenue
The Howard County courthouse is a Greek Revival structure, built of local granite between 1841 and 1843. The battered old British cannon on the lawn, captured at the Battle of Bladensburg in the War of 1812 by “Bachelor” John Dorsey, was one of the few souvenirs the Americans got out of that encounter.
Howard County Historical Society Museum
8324 Court Avenue
The Museum is housed in the former First Presbyterian Church, a building constructed in the Gothic style with a 100-foot bell tower, a roof characterized by steeply pitched intersecting gables with the south end of the building being semi-hexagonal in shape and having a semi-conical roof. The original structure begun in 1837 collapsed during renovations in 1894. The new structure was designed by George Archer. The windows are stained and leaded glass and include a rose window picturing two angles behind the organ, built in 1885 by the A.B. Felgemacher Organ Company of Erie, Pennsylvania.
Wooten Law Office
8351 Court Avenue
Built in 1869 on a foundation of native granite, this was the law office of Henry Edgar Wooten. It is the oldest law office in Howard County and one of the oldest in continuous use in the State of Maryland as it remains a fixture on Lawyer’s Row across from the Courthouse.
Howard County Historical Society Library
8324 Court Avenue
The Library has occupied the Weir Building or Old School House since 1988. The building originally housed the Ellicott Mills Quaker School. It is believed to be the oldest structure in Ellicott City. It features elaborate iron grille work on its porch.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS AND TURN RIGHT ON COURT PLACE, PAST THE COURTHOUSE.
Ellicott City Jail
1 Emory Street
Also referred to as Emory Jail or “Willow Grove,” the Ellicott City Jail was constructed in 1878. This Romanesque revival structure is a unique architectural landmark. Currently used for storage, the building has been stripped of much of its classic ironwork and fittings. A temporaryroof which replaced the architecturally correct slate roof is still in place. This building, in decline from years of neglect and sporadic use, was listed as one of Howard County’s Top 10 Endangered Sites in 2009.
BEAR RIGHT THROUGH PARKNG LOT TO SARAH’S LANE.
3691 Sarah’s Lane
Mount Ida was designed in 1828 by the highly accomplished architect, N.G. Starkweather, who also designed Temora, St. John’s Episcopal Church, and many homes in the Baltimore area. It was built for William Ellicott, son of Jonathan and Sarah Ellicott, and grandson of Andrew, one of the founders of Ellicott’s Mills. It was the last home to be built by an Ellicott within the town’s limits as then outlined. Unfortunately, William Ellicott died in 1838 at age forty-three. The home was built of rubble stone, stuccoed, and painted the old Maryland gold. It was surrounded by beautiful oak, linden, and other trees, and gardens on the east side placed on terraces. The framed wing on the west side was not a part of the original structure; other modifications were made when it was used by a newspaper, other businesses, and as an adjunct to court facilities. It presently serves as the Visitor Center for Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park.
Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park
3691 Sarah’s Lane
The Patapsco Female Institute, founded in 1837, was one of the most famous schools for young women in 19th century America. The granite Greek Revival structure, now stabilized ruins, with its four soaring Doric columns sits atop the town’s highest elevation, overlooking the dramatic Patapsco River Valley. When the school closed in 1890, it went through many metamorphoses: a hotel, a private residence, a WW I convalescent home, a summer outdoor theater and a nursing home for the indigents. Now open for tours, the property is said to be haunted, specifically by Annie Van Derlot. She was the daughter of a rich southern planter and she was never happy at the school. She died from pneumonia her first winter. Her apparition has been seen walking out of the front doors and down the stone steps before disappearing as it crosses the lawn.
TURN RIGHT AND WALK DOWN CHURCH ROAD.
3749 Church Road
After French artist Samuel Vaughn built this octagonal-turreted structure, overlooking a ravine from the rim of Tarpeian Rock in 1831, it caused such a sensation that the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad ran excursion trains out to see it.
Ellicott City Church Of God
3761 Church Road
Now used by the Ellicott City Church of God this building dates to 1875.
Old Stone Powell House
3791 Church Road
The original granite house was built around 1840; the fashionable Second Empire mansard roof added decades later. You can see the smaller size stones that were used in the remodeling effort.
Emory United Methodist Church
3799 Church Road
The history of Emory United Methodist Church begins with its founding on November 27, 1837 at a gathering in Union Meeting House adjacent to the mill in Oella. There, a group of citizens met to elect the first nine trustees of Emory Chapel in Ellicotts Mills in Ann Arundel County for the purpose of organizing a Methodist Episcopal Church. Less than two months later, the church’s first pastor, Reverend Richard Brown of the Ellicott’s Mills, Patapsco Circuit penned an article about Emory’s founding in the The Christian Advocate & Journal which read: “At Ellicott’s Mills, about eighty have been adopted into the family of Christ - the Church has been graciously revived, and at this time, many humble penitents are inquiring ‘what they shall do to be saved.’ In this flourishing village with her several thousands of population, we have erected a commodious chapel, on a lot of land given to the church by Samuel Ellicott, Esq., the value of which is estimated at $1,000. The edifice is of fine granite, 50 by 65 feet, three stories high. The foundation is on a rock, and thee basement story is from 50 to 120 feet above a large portion of the village - a more beautiful site is seldom to be seen.” The building was remodeled and enlarged in 1880.
First County Fire Station
3829 Church Road at Main Street
Built in 1889, the Firehouse Museum was a working fire station until 1923. After serving as a meeting hall and other public functions it was restored to its original appearance in 1989. Visitors can see firefighter memorabilia, uniforms and photographs.
TURN RIGHT ON MAIN STREET AND WALK ONE BLOCK TO FORREST STREET.
Tersiguel’s French Country Restaurant
8293 Main Street at the southeast corner of Forrest Street
Now, appropriately since 1990, this French-inspired Second Empire dwelling is Tersiguel’s French Country Restaurant. It is located in the former home of George Ellicott, Jr., who became the first mayor of the newly named Ellicott City in 1867.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS AND WALK EAST ON MAIN STREET, DOWN THE HILL.
Reedy Electric Company
8283 Main Street
Typical of the Commercial style of building erected in Ellicott City from 1920 to 1950, the ornamental detail was subordinated to large plate glass display windows on multi-story, straight-fronted buildings. The original storefront has been removed from the Reedy Electric building.
United States Post Office
Main Street and Hamilton Street
This attractive stone building with twelve-over-twelve front windows was dedicated on December 7,1940. The Post Office was home to two murals painted in 1942 by Peter Paul DeAnna, “Building of Ellicott Mills” and “Landscape of Ellicott City.” It was one of 16 such Post Offices in Maryland to feature such murals. The building landed on Howard County’s Top 10 Endangered Sites List in 2007 and was subsequently purchased by the County to serve as a welcome center and tourism hub.
8219 Main Street
This is the only Art Deco building in Ellicott City, opened as the Ellicott Theatre in 1946. The Town’s movie palace had two shades of glazed terra cotta, modern steel casement windows and a curved storefront that called to mind the streamlined contours of the era’s automobiles and trains. In the more than five decades since the building appeared on Main Street, the 125-seat theater housed a children’s stage company, comic book store, movie house -- twice -- and even a disco.
TURN RIGHT ON OLD COLUMBIA PIKE.
3733 Old Columbia Pike
This row of 19th century utilitarian structures has been the architectural orphan of Ellicott City. Referred to on early maps as barns or sheds, these buildings were built between 1830 and 1870 to serve the livery trade. Because of their relative obscurity, they have been untouched and today very much resemble the original structures. They have withstood the threat of demolition and, wearing new faces, will continue to play a role in this historic community.
3722-3744 Old Columbia Pike
Now specialty shops, these granite buildings from the 1840s were rental properties owned by the widow Ann Tongue.
TURN AND WALK BACK DOWN OLD COLUMBIA PIKE TO MAIN STREET AND TURN RIGHT.
8202 Main Street
Constructed in 1850, with two additional stories added around 1898, Howard House operated for many decades as a country inn. Its ideal location on the National Pike and its short walk to the Ellicott City Baltimore and Ohio Railroad station ensured success. A classic example of Second Empire period architecture, the five-story granite building features a concave mansard roof with dormers and ornate slate encircles the top floor. Now apartments, the building’s southern side, facing Main Street, has original granite blocks, a wide wooden porch and decorative wrought iron. The building’s chief entrance, an oversize wooden door flanked by clear glass sidelights and an oversize transom, is central to the property’s unique architecture.
Taylor’s Antique Mall
8197 Main Street
Taylor’s sold new furniture when it opened in 1924; now it sells old furniture as a rambling antiques mall.
Walker Chandler House
8180 Man Street
Known as the Walker Chandler house, the historic building that houses Ellicott’s Country Store dates to 1790 and is considered by some to be the first duplex in the country. Built of Ellicott City granite, the structure was home to the Walker and Chandler families, who each lived in one half of the house.
Farmers and Mechanics Bank
8137 Main Street
This 1904 example of Beaux Arts architecture was built for the Farmers and Mechanics Bank.
IOOF Centre Lodge #40
8128-8132 Main Street
This lodge house for the International Organization of Odd Fellows dates to 1843.
8125 Main Street
The Caplan’s Department store building is an example of the Commercial style with many original features intact, including the shaped cornice, metal storefront cornice, transom windows, and recessed entranceway with ceramic tile floor.
Patapsco National Bank
8098 Main Street
The former Patapsco National Bank, later the First National Bank, was built in the Neoclassical style in 1905. The original bank opened on a different site in 1833.
Town Hall Opera House
8044 Main Street
The original part of this building dates to 1771 when it served as a tavern and residence. It was later enlarged with a brick story added to stone and was once a Civil War prisoner holding site. As the Town Hall Opera House it is said that President Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth got his start as an actor here. While doing time as Ellicott City Town Hall a series of cellars was dug into the rocky hillside behind each of the first four stories.
8059-8061 Main Street
The Eastons operated a funeral parlor here on Main Street.
TURN RIGHT ON MARYLAND AVENUE. TURN RIGHT ON ST. PAUL STREET.
Old Patapsco Bank
3755 St. Paul Street
In 1922 the St. Paul parish school opened in the former Patapsco National Bank building. It was staffed by the School Sisters of Notre Dame who lived in the top two floors of this building. It is now known as Dohony Hall for Monsignor Nicholas Dohony who served the parish from 1962 to 1986.
St. Paul’s Catholic Church
3755 St. Paul Street
Dedicated on September 13, 1838, at that time, St. Paul Church, built on land acquired from George Ellicott, was the only Catholic church between Baltimore and Frederick. To date, St. Paul Church remains the oldest, active parish between Baltimore and Pittsburgh. The outside of the church was gray granite from a nearby quarry. The inside was plain and unpainted with large plain glass windows. Before the church was completed, the first pastor, Father Henry Coskery (1835-1839) celebrated Mass at Castle Angelo on the opposite hill. During the Civil War, the basement of the church served as a hospital for all soldiers - both Northern and Southern. After the Civil War, a series of renovations began. Frescoed walls, a marble altar flanked by carved wooden angels, a silver crucifix and elaborate German silver chandeliers were added to the church. Father Peter Tarro (1883-1907) rebuilt the main altar with Scotch marble, and covered the tabernacle in white marble and a brass door. Other additions included tinted glass windows and two marble side altars. In 1896 the steeple topped by a Celtic cross was added. On October 17, 1914, after a four-month courtship, 19-year old George Herman “Babe” Ruth and Helen Woodford eloped and got married here.
St. Paul Parish Hall
3755 St. Paul Street
St. Paul Parish Hall (the current office building), featuring a mansard roof and Victorian porch, was built to be used as a Sunday School and center for social activities.
TURN LEFT ON COLLEGE AVENUE.
3700 College Avenue
Now a residential complex, this was the site of Sam’s Academy, built in 1827. Later the Brothers of Christian Schools erected Rock Hill Academy here and in 1865 the academy was chartered as Rock Hill Academy. After fire destroyed the building in 1922, Rock Hill was merged with Calvert Hall Academy in Baltimore. One thing that did not burn was a copper beech tree in front of the building - it is a Howard County champion tree.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS DOWN THE HILL AND TURN RIGHT ON ST. PAUL STREET TO RETURN TO THE THE BALTIMORE & OHIO RAILROAD STATION.
Baltimore & Ohio Depot
2711 Maryland Avenue
Completed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1830, the Ellicott City passenger depot is the oldest surviving railroad station in America and the site of the original terminus of the first 13 miles of commercial track ever constructed in America. The first cars hauled by horses arrived on May 24, 1830. This station was built the next year, and soon steel rails replaced wooden ones. The line became strategically important to the Union war effort in 1861, and the local Patapsco Guard were among the Federal troops that guarded the road. Supplies en route to the armies passed the station day and night. After the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg, prisoners were held here pending parole or transfer to prison camps. In the 1970s the station was restored as a museum and a second restoration in 1999 returned the building to its 1857 appearance. The rounded stone wall, extending south from the station and now part of the platform, was the foundation of a turntable.
Baltimore & Ohio Freight Office
2711 Maryland Avenue
This brick building served as the freight office for the Baltimore & Ohio building.
8004-8026 Main Street
The first building on Main Street west of the railroad bridge is the old Patapsco Hotel. Tradition has it that on a Sunday morning during one of his presidential campaigns Henry Clay appeared on the balcony that extended at one time across the front of this building. A crowd quickly gathered and called for a speech. Clay held up his hands for silence. But before he could begin, a church bell pealed, whereupon Clay called out, “My friends and fellow citizens, the notes of yonder church bell remind me that this day is for prayer and not public speaking.” Once more he raised his hands, this time in benediction, and retired to his room.
TURN RIGHT ON MAIN STREET AND WALK UNDER THE RAILROAD BRIDGE.
John Ellicott Store
8000 Main Street
The Ellicott family erected this five-bay stone building around 1790 to serve as a market for the town and mills. Across the Patapsco River you can visit the site of the original Ellicott’s Mills where commercial milling began in 1774. Also the 1789 home of George Ellicott, miller, surveyor, merchant and astronomer. Floods damaged the house in 1972 and 1975, but after stabilization, it was moved across the road to its current site in 1987 and restored in 1990-91 under the auspices of Historic Ellicott City, Inc.
TURN AND WALK WEST BACK UP MAIN STREET FOUR BLOCKS TO THE BEGINNING OF THE TOUR.