Ellicott's Country Store, fully recovered, reopens Friday

August 30, 1992|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

The wicker baskets and clay pots and porcelain figurines are finding their places again at Ellicott's Country Store, which was damaged by arson earlier this year.

Inside the historic, four-story granite-block building, owner Enalee Bounds busily puts penny candies on shelves and candlesticks into place as she readies for the store's Sept. 4 reopening.

Mrs. Bounds has re-created, and in some cases redesigned, some of the showrooms that were destroyed in the fire.

She has replaced the rear kitchen with an interior design office and has added stairwells to improve the flow of traffic.

Despite two fires and two floods that might have forced some store owners to close their doors for good, Mrs. Bounds is determined to keep her shop in the historic district.

"It's hard to put into words what I feel for the town," Mrs. Bounds said. "It's very hard, too hard to leave and give up."

Her determination has won her an achievement award from the Ellicott City Business Association. She received her plaque Wednesday night at Tersiguel's restaurant.

"She's one of the oldest established businesses around," said Barry Gibson, president. "It's a matter of fortitude to be in business in this town. She has outstanding courage to rebuild the building and still be around."

History and tradition pervade the building. In the late 1800s, the building was a country store as well as a boot repair shop. It served as a bar, a restaurant and a record shop in the 1900s.

Mrs. Bounds and her mother, Mildred Werner, leased the building in 1962 to open the country store. They bought the building in the early 1970s.

Mrs. Bounds still offers some of the items she sold when the store first opened.

The penny candies in the glass display -- chocolate babies, licorice, peppermint sticks and the like -- actually cost just pennies, enough for kids to still grab a fistful after getting their allowances.

"It was one of the wonderful places to shop," said Nancy Gibson, who as a girl loved to stroll in the store with her mother. "We always went to that store, and it used to be one of the stores that was open all the time."

The store always had unique gifts, and during the holidays, there'd be an array of reproduction Victorian gift bags, said Mrs. Gibson, wife of the business association president.

Investigators still have not determined who started the Feb. 19 fire, which began in the second-floor rear kitchen.

Lighter fluid was used to ignite the curtain. Mrs. Bounds and her husband, Ronald, were on vacation in the British West Indies when their daughter called and told them the news.

"You really had to see it," she said. "Black pictures, black walls, black everything. We were fortunate no one was hurt."

The fire was so hot that brass and iron items melted and fused onto tables. Mrs. Bounds and friends hauled a big trash bin to the front of the building and threw damaged goods out the LTC second-floor window.

"I almost feel it was worth it to have the fire happen to find out how many friends you have," Mrs. Bounds said. "When you have these kind of friends and support, you don't give up."

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