"Believe me. This place has come a long way," said Jeanne St. Martinof her family's recently renovated 135-year-old Ellicott City home on Old Columbia Pike, a quarter-mile uphill from Main Street.
"The first night we moved in, the ceiling in one of the bathrooms collapsed on our heads," she said. "Not your best welcome."
St. Martin and her husband, Sean, were among the winners at the Howard County Historic District Commission's second annual Preservation Awards Wednesday at Oakland mansion in Columbia.
The St. Martinsreceived their award in the Best Rehabilitation/Restoration of a Residential Structure category.
Also honored were Roland and Enalee Bounds for their "Outstanding Contribution to Historic Preservation" by an individual or business, and Don Reuwer and Fernand Tersiguel for"Best Rehabilitation/Restoration of a Commercial Building" for Tersiguel's Restaurant.
"Wednesday's program was a way of recognizing the outstanding efforts and long hours devoted to preserving some of the county's original architecture," said Alice Ann Wetzel, county historic planner.
"All the winners did an excellent job of keeping that old-time Ellicott City charm alive."
The St. Martins bought their two-story farm-style house near the Ellicott Family graveyard fouryears ago and "replaced just about everything imaginable."
The house, which has 11 rooms and three full bathrooms, was previously separated into two apartments.
"My husband and I restored it to what it was many years ago. We knocked down a lot of the walls, replaced the plumbing and electrical wiring, and put on a new roof and porch. Now, it's our own little palace," said Jeanne St. Martin.
St. Martin, 35, the mother of two, added that she and Sean had no immediate plans for future household projects.
"We're tired. I think we need torest for a while," she said.
The Bounds were honored for three decades of involvement with the Ellicott City Historic District. They were active in the restoration of the B & O Railroad Station Museum, and also helped found the Ellicott City Restoration Foundation and Historic Ellicott City Inc.
Enalee Bounds, owner of Ellicott's Country Store, has served as chairperson of several Decorator Showhouse county tours through historic mansions, including Temora, MacAlpine and Armagh.
Her husband, a past president of the Howard County Historic District Commission, says the award was "a very pleasant surprise."
"I was going to attend the ceremony anyway, but had no idea my wife and I would be honored. It's nice to be recognized by your peers,"Bounds said.
Tersiguel's French Country Restaurant, which opened for business last October, took top honors for best commercial restoration.
Reuwer and Tersiguel revamped the structure, previously a residence, and transformed it into an elegant restaurant with five dining rooms: the Hunt Room, Winery of France Room, Brittany Room, Church Room and Memory Room, which shows photographs of Fernand Tersiguel's former restaurant ventures.
Historic Ellicott Properties won an honorable mention in the commercial category for its restoration of the Stillridge Herb Shop, 8129 Main St., owned by Dr. Bruce Taylor.