About Historic Ellicott City, Inc.

Mission Statement

HEC’s mission is to support the preservation and restoration of the Ellicott City Historic District as well as other historic Howard County properties, and to promote a greater awareness of Ellicott City and Howard County history.

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

1972

Founded

Established HEC, Inc. following Hurricane Agnes to restore portions of downtown Ellicott City

First Preservation Project

In 1972, Tropical Storm Agnes severely damaged Ellicott City and threatened the railroad station. Completed in 1831, it is the oldest surviving train station in America. The station and the railroad brought the city to prominence in the 19th Century. HEC was formed and the Decorator Show House was started for the purpose of raising money to save and restore the station after the 1972 Tropical Storm Agnes. Click here to read more

Bronze Plaque Program

HEC’s Bronze Plaque program identifies and commemorates the surviving examples of historic architecture that punctuate the landscape of the town for residents and visitors alike. These plaques along Main Street Ellicott City show the history of the building as well as a photo of the building. The first plaque was installed at Ellicott’s Country Store, others include the Emory United Methodist Church on Church Road, the Envy Salon on Old Columbia Pike.

1987

Preserved the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin

Originally located on Merryman Street, the circa 1780, building known as the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin was donated to HEC 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 at the corner of Main Street and Ellicott Mills Drive in 1987.

Mount Ida Opens to the Public

Opened Mount. Ida, circa 1828, built by William Ellicott, to the public and ran as a historic life museum

Community Support

Since the 2016 Flood, HEC has provided over $100,000 in grants through Preservation Maryland and other endowments to Ellicott City with over $40,000 awaiting further disbursement. Information on most of our grant recipients can be found under the “Preservation Project”

Latest Preservation Project

Located on the grounds of the Shrine of St. Anthony in Ellicott City, Carrollton Hall was built by Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence for his granddaughter Emily MacTavish in 1831-32. Today with the help of contributions, the building is undergoing a massive over $3 million rehabilitation which will establish Carrollton Hall as an exhibit, event, and meeting space for the community.

What is the Difference Between…

HEC’s mission is to support the preservation and restoration of the Ellicott City Historic District as well as other historic Howard County properties, and to promote a greater awareness of Ellicott City and Howard County history.

We are often asked about the difference between the Howard County Historical Society, Historic Ellicott City, Inc., and the Historic District Commission. Below is a complete definition for each group. If you have any questions, or would like further clarification, please contact Historic Ellicott City, Inc.

Historic Ellicott City, Inc.

This group formed in 1972 as an outgrowth of the 1972 Bicentennial Committee which put on the 200th birthday party for Ellicott City. The profits realized by this committee from the celebration were to go toward the restoration of the railroad station, and HEC was formed to carry out this task. HEC does not just concern itself with the restoration of the station but to other preservation projects. To quote part of the By-laws, “The object of the Corporation shall be to preserve the distinctive quality of Ellicott City and Howard County derived from the building, structures, objects and spaces that possess integrity of locality . . .that contribute to the historic character of this locale . . .”

Historic District Commission

The Commission is a county agency, formed after Ellicott City became by law an historic district in 1974. The Commission is entrusted with approving exterior changes to buildings in the historic district area (any property owner desiring to make exterior changes must come before the Commission before a building permit can be issued by the Dept. of Public Works).

Howard County Historical Society

It was formed in 1957 and its purposes are to investigate and study the history of Howard County and Maryland; to provide for the collection, preservation and dissemination of information; to provide for the collection, preservation, display of papers, books, records and other things of historical interest; and to mark and preserve historical sites and buildings.

Historic Ellicott City, Inc.

Historic Ellicott City, Inc.

This group formed in 1972 as an outgrowth of the 1972 Bicentennial Committee which put on the 200th birthday party for Ellicott City. The profits realized by this committee from the celebration were to go toward the restoration of the railroad station, and HEC was formed to carry out this task. HEC does not just concern itself with the restoration of the station but to other preservation projects. To quote part of the By-laws, “The object of the Corporation shall be to preserve the distinctive quality of Ellicott City and Howard County derived from the building, structures, objects and spaces that possess integrity of locality . . .that contribute to the historic character of this locale . . .”

Historic District Commission

Historic District Commission

The Commission is a county agency, formed after Ellicott City became by law an historic district in 1974. The Commission is entrusted with approving exterior changes to buildings in the historic district area (any property owner desiring to make exterior changes must come before the Commission before a building permit can be issued by the Dept. of Public Works).

Howard County Historical Society

Howard County Historical Society

It was formed in 1957 and its purposes are to investigate and study the history of Howard County and Maryland; to provide for the collection, preservation and dissemination of information; to provide for the collection, preservation, display of papers, books, records and other things of historical interest; and to mark and preserve historical sites and buildings.

Our Office

HEC’s administrative office is located at the St. John’s Cemetery Lodge on St. Johns Lane in Ellicott City, Maryland. The lodge was built between the years 1871 and 1886 and was established through a gift from Sallie Elizabeth Dorsey. The Lodge is one of the most unique and charming buildings in Howard County, reminiscent of an English Cottage and appears on the Maryland Historical Trust. Click here to read more.

Because HEC operates exclusively with the help of volunteers, our office is not open to the public without appointment. Our mailing address is:

PO Box 244
Ellicott City, MD 21041

X