Historic Ellicott City Inc: How It All Started

The Beginning of a Restoration Movement

In the 1960’s Main Street Ellicott City was going through a moment of truth. Modernization on Route 40 was looming, but a natural born preservationist, Jean Hannon, was determined not to lose what history had provided. Jean initiated and supervised the restoration movement begun by garden clubs and civic organizations. In 1960 she participated in “Paint Ellicott City”, a painting and clean-up project sponsored by Sears, Roebuck and Co. and won a $500 prize that was the seed money for her newly established Old Line Shop on Main Street.

The Old Line Shop became the launching pad for others interested in investing in Main Street. Jean subsequently founded Historic Ellicott Mills, Inc., an all-volunteer nonprofit with a mission to restore and preserve Old Ellicott City.

Historic Ellicott City Inc. Is Formed

Enalee Bounds, a like-minded and equally passionate preservationist, moved her business into the Walker-Chandler house and established Ellicott’s Country Store. Then along came another gal, Agnes, Hurricane Agnes, that is, in June of 1972, that resulted in devastating flooding of Old Ellicott City.

Since the bicentennial celebration of Ellicott City’s founding in 1772 had already been planned, the Bicentennial Committee of which Enalee was a leader, carried on with the festivities in October, but the B & O Train Station had been badly damaged in the flood. These two preservationists saw the writing on the wall and knew demolition of the nation’s first railroad terminus was not far off and sprang into action. By the next fall the two joined forces by merging the two organizations, and thus began Historic Ellicott City, Inc.

What is Historic Ellicott City, Inc.?

Historic Ellicott City, Inc., commonly referred to as “HEC,” is a nonprofit volunteer organization founded in 1972 as a result of the merger of Historic Ellicott Mills, Inc. and the Ellicott City Bicentennial Association, Inc. Shortly after its founding, the organization began a long-term effort to restore and operate the B&O Railroad Museum which was damaged in the major flooding from Hurricane Agnes in 1972. At the same time, HEC was actively supporting an effort to establish the Ellicott City Historic District Commission and promoted the designation of the old portion of Ellicott City as an officially recognized member of the National Register of Historic Places.

HEC is best known for its decorator show houses which began in 1984. This has resulted in the restoration and opening to the public of many private historic homes throughout Howard County for all to see.

As a result of 33 successful show houses to date, and several other fundraising activities, and with the volunteer support of our members as well as the generous contributions of our sponsors, HEC has been able to use the funds raised to support many worthy projects including the restoration and moving of the historic George Ellicott house on Main Street, the preservation of the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin, and more recently, helping Ellicott City recover in the aftermath of the tragic 2016 and 2018 floods.

HEC continues to actively find new fundraising projects and ways to support Ellicott City and Howard County preservation efforts so that future generations can understand and appreciate the history of our community. We hope you will consider participating in this effort with us.

Historic Ellicott City, Inc.

Over the Years