New sign to replace Ellicott Theatre marquee

September 15, 1997|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Historic District Commission has approved Sun and John Pacylowski's application for a new sign to replace the prominent marquee that had for so many years announced the musicians and artists performing at the Ellicott Theatre in historic Ellicott City. The theater, on Main Street at Old Columbia Pike, closed last month.

John Pacylowski said the new sign is the first of several changes at the theater, which is next-door to a collectibles shop, called Precious Gifts, that he and his wife own.

He said the 55-year-old building will undergo a two-phase renovation.

The first stage, scheduled to be completed by April, will involve an expansion into the structure's lobby and front hallway.

The second phase, which is to begin next summer, will complete the expansion by converting the theater portion into retail space, Pacylowski said. He said cramped space of his current store necessitated an expansion.

"We only have 580 square feet here," he said. "We do a substantial amount of business, and we're outgrowing the space."

But Pacylowski said the new space will preserve the flavor of the theater by displaying some of its artifacts, such as its camera and projector.

"We want to capture the history of the theater," he said. "It'll be a nice stop for tourists because it will show the history."

The theater closed Aug. 10 because it did not bring in enough revenue for the building's owner.

Though the building has been a focal point for arts and entertainment dating to the 1940s, it has also at various times housed a variety of ultimately unsuccessful retail operations, including a comics and collectibles shop, a coin-operated laundry and a grocery store, as well as a children's theater and a disco.

Meanwhile, Tony McGuffin, who operated the Ellicott Theatre -- the latest performing arts venue in the space that opened in 1995 -- said he is working with Barry Gibson, a dental technician and former president of the Ellicott City Business and Professional Organization, to open a new performing arts venue at the Forget-Me-Not Factory on Main Street.

McGuffin said the building, which was once an opera house, could be altered for concerts if he and Gibson receive the historic and arts grants for which they are applying.

"There's a possibility we could open that space," McGuffin said, adding that he still misses the Ellicott Theatre.

"That's still a heart-breaker for me, but at least we have a possibility here."

Pub Date: 9/15/97

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