It's a long and winding road that leads over jarring bumps and underneath looming trees, taking you from the suburban bustle of Ellicott City to the turquoise calm of Taylor Manor.
The 70-acre campus of this psychiatric facility off College Avenue has been a fixture in this area for 60 years, dating to a time when Ellicott City was a place out in the country, a train ride that took you to a stop far removed from the hurried pace of city life in Baltimore.
For the most part, Taylor Manor has gone about its business out of the sight, and minds, of its neighbors. That changed last month when the hospital decided to try to open a 26-bed facility for violent juvenile sex offenders. The proposal was withdrawn this month when neighborhood opposition grew vehement.
Dr. Bruce T. Taylor, medical director and chief executive officer of Taylor Manor and spokesman for the Taylor family, indicated he was happy when they were little noticed.
"Sometime during the mid-1970s, we bought the property of a next-door neighbor, a Mr. and Mrs. Simpson," Taylor recalled. "And they said they didn't even know we were here. That's because we went quietly about doing what we did."
The hospital dates to 1907, when it was a 12-bed clinic run by five people. Isaac H. Taylor, who had opened a furniture store on Main Street in the heart of what is now Ellicott City's historic district, bought the struggling hospital in 1939.
Isaac Taylor's son, Irving, joined the hospital staff as medical director in 1949 and collaborated with several other researchers on studying anti-psychotic drugs such as Thorazine, said Bruce Taylor, who began working at the hospital in 1979 and is Irving's son.
Now, Taylor Manor is one of fewer than a dozen privately owned psychiatric facilities in the nation. The Taylor family mark is clearly visible -- the interior and exterior of the campus' Center building, as well as all the sofas and curtains, are turquoise.
Taylor said his mother, Edith L. Taylor, chose the color and rebuffed architects who wanted to replace the trim with black. "She said, 'Over my dead body. It's not going to be morbid,' " Taylor recalled with a laugh. "She wanted it to be soothing and restful."
The hospital, which offers inpatient and outpatient counseling, alcohol and drug treatment and a group home for severely mentally ill teen-age boys, has been a leader in the medical field, Taylor said. About 60 patients were there last week. The hospital can accommodate 125.
During the 1960s, the hospital was the first in the state to %J separate treatment units for adults and adolescents. The hospital was also one of the first facilities to establish a program to treat individuals suffering from "dual diagnoses," a condition in which a patient suffers from two related emotional or mental illnesses, Taylor said.
The campus grew as well. The building for adolescents was added in the 1930s, a facility devoted to outpatient treatment was built during the 1980s, and the Center building -- named because of its location on the campus -- is being renovated.
Long-range plans include construction of at least five office and research buildings, Taylor said.
But as the campus has grown, so have complaints about the hospital.
To some neighbors -- who claim they have noticed the hospital because patients walk away on a weekly basis -- the Taylor family's announcement of the planned center for adolescent sexual offenders was part of a pattern.
"My impression is that it's typical of the Taylor arrogance, which is to go ahead and plan something without talking to the community," said Chris Cotter, who lives on College Avenue. "As big as they are, they have a responsibility to the community, and I don't think they do that."
Said nearby resident Judy Gavin: "It's very distressing."
Plans by the Taylor family to join in harvesting the bounty of owning suburban land by building 200 houses on 200 acres of the property bordering the hospital have also spurred community complaints.
But Taylor said the hospital, which has 170 full-time and 50 part-time workers, has tried to be neighborly.
"I think, in general, there has been a good relationship," Taylor said. "We're providers of employment opportunities, education and services to the community. We've tried to fill the needs of the community."
Still, some neighbors have bitter feelings.
"It's a feeling of distrust that the Taylor family doesn't deal with the community in a straight way," Cotter said, adding that neighbors weren't aware of the development and sex offender unit plans until it was reported in newspapers. "And I don't think that feeling is unjustified."
But hospital officials argue that they have been open to dialogues with community members. Taylor points out that as soon as he heard the residents' objections to the sex offender unit, it was dropped. "There are only so many battles we want to fight, and that's not one we were interested in," Taylor said.
Other neighbors argue that the presence of the hospital has even drawn benefits for the community.
"If there's a storm and the power goes out, ours is the first that's turned back on," said Ouita Jackson, who has lived on College Avenue for 39 years. "If there's a lot of snow, our road is the first one cleared. [The hospital] has never been a problem for the community before."
Neighbors such as Cotter say they would love to bridge the gap that separates the hospital from its neighbors, to sit down and settle their differences.
"We'd all love to," he said. "We're dying to do that."
Pub Date: 8/31/97