Pleased with the results from their first "Top Ten Endangered Sites" list, Howard County preservationists are putting out a second call for the names of historic properties threatened by decay or development.
Whether it was the publicity or just coincidence, many of the sites on the first list - which Preservation Howard County released in May - now have brighter futures. Activists involved with the young nonprofit group intend to compile a new list by May of next year and want residents to nominate additional buildings and places by the end of November.
"The most important thing the list did is create a good dialogue in the county about historic sites," said Mary Catherine Cochran, president of Preservation Howard County.
"I think it's made an actual difference to most of the buildings on the list," she added.
The list's historic sites ranged from Blandair, the 300-acre farm in the heart of Columbia with a rotting mansion, to the Dorsey Arcadia Cemetery, a 19th-century burial ground in Ellicott City that is filled with trash, dead trees and broken headstones.
Among the changes since May:
Blandair is one step closer to the end of the legal limbo prompted by the death of owner Elizabeth C. "Nancy" Smith. Late last month, the state Court of Special Appeals ruled in favor of the county, which had agreed in 1998 to buy the land from Smith's relatives - a sale that was contested by a group opposing development there. While the group considers whether to appeal the ruling, activists are planning cleanup days inside the mansion to try to salvage relics of life in the historic house.
The lone volunteer who has battled weeds in the Dorsey Arcadia Cemetery is getting help: Boy Scouts are working in the cemetery to unclog it, Cochran said.
County officials and developer Winchester Homes worked together so two old cabins on the Mount Joy farm in Ellicott City will not be torn down when houses are built on the property. One of the structures is thought to have been slave quarters.
The Columbia Association and local activists have worked out plans to clear and stabilize the Woodlawn slave quarters, a small stone building north of Route 108 that is choked by vines.
The Columbia Exhibit Center became the most controversial entry on the list because of its age: It began its life 34 years ago as a welcome center for people visiting the new town. The Rouse Co. intends to tear it down at some point and build something else, a decision unchanged by the center's appearance on the list.
But Cochran thinks the center's inclusion sparked an interesting debate. Some people wondered: Can a relatively new building be historic?
"It really incited a lot of opinions," she said.
Van Wensil, an Elkridge resident who lives in a 19th-century house, is glad preservationists compiled the list. The full impact is unclear, she said, but at the very least it has focused attention on historic places.
"We're just losing buildings so fast in this county - left and right," said Wensil, who sits on the Howard County Historic District Commission. "Once they're gone, that's it."
Nomination forms for the list are at the county government offices in Ellicott City, in the county's libraries and on Preservation Howard County's Web site, www. preservation howardcounty.org.