Historic group honors 7 who honored the past

October 03, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

Jean Hannon is a longtime preservationist who helped create the Ellicott City historic district, while Elizabeth and Robert Bernstein transformed a former boys' school into their dream home.

Despite their different approaches, each will receive a Historic Preservation Award this month for their efforts from the county Historic District Commission.

"It's just a chance to say, 'You guys did a great job, thank you,'" said Herbert Johl, chairman of the commission overseeing historic districts in Ellicott City and Elkridge.

The annual awards recognize outstanding contributions to historic preservation, achievement in preserving a nonresidential resource and preserving a residential resource. Besides Mrs. Hannon and the Bernsteins, this year's award recipients include Ed Williams, director of the B&O Railroad Station Museum; Margaret Smith, owner of Margaret Smith Gallery in historic Ellicott City; and Nancy Bockstael and Iver Strand, who replaced a contemporary rancher in Ellicott City with a new Victorian-style farmhouse.

Mrs. Hannon, an eight-year commission member who retired in July, will receive an award for outstanding contribution to historic preservation. "Jean has done a tremendous job in everything she's touched," Mr. Johl said.

An active preservationist for 35 years, Mrs. Hannon helped create the Ellicott City historic district in the mid-1970s, participated in development plans to revitalize the area and designed the county flag.

"We learn from the past and we see more and more of our landmarks that are disappearing," said Mrs. Hannon, who became interested in historic preservation in 1960 when she supervised a cleanup campaign in Ellicott City.

Art gallery owner Margaret Smith will also receive an award for her involvement in the Ellicott City Marketing Task Force, Ellicott City Business Association and the Howard County Tourism Council.

"Margaret has been a very strong promoter of historic Ellicott City," Mr. Johl said. "She's always been in the forefront."

From 1991 to 1993, Ms. Smith served as president of the Howard County Tourism Council, which created an advertising campaign called "Howard Who?" meant to pique interest in the county.

Creating a cohesive marketing strategy for the entire county was a demanding job, Ms. Smith said.

"It was like walking a tightrope," Ms. Smith said. "We tried to market not only Ellicott City but Howard County as a whole."

Ed Williams will receive an award for his walking tours and living history exhibits at the B & O Railroad Station Museum.

Last year, Mr. Williams began a three-month living history exhibit describing the role of the station during the Civil War featuring civilian and military living historians. This year the program grew to five months and includes walking tours of historic Ellicott City and free concerts.

Mr. Williams also helped create three educational films about the Civil War that will be shown to fifth- through eighth-graders in Howard County schools.

Living history "is very real compared to reading it in a book," Mr. Williams said. "It's alive, it's real, you bring history alive where people can see it, smell it and touch it."

This year's award for preserving a residential resource will be given to Robert and Elizabeth Bernstein, who refurbished the 1866 Episcopal Boys' School on Old Columbia Pike in Ellicott City.

The couple repainted the three-story stucco mansion a light gray with charcoal trim, applied new stucco and refurbished its wrap-around wooden porch. They also did extensive interior work that included repairing ceilings, installing new electric wiring and plumbing.

"Bit by bit, we pulled it all together," Mrs. Bernstein said. "Now, we're down to pretty minor repairs," such as completing electric wiring and tearing down peeling wallpaper in the living room.

Nancy Bockstael and Iver Strand, who razed a rancher and built a Victorian-style farmhouse on the Church Road foundation, were not available for comment.

The awards ceremony is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18, at the Waverly Historic Mansion in Marriottsville.

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