Mill sought for Ellicott City

September 23, 2005|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,sun reporter

Howard County's historic mill town needs a mill.

So say the members of Historic Ellicott City Inc., (HEC) who have chosen as their next project erecting a mill in the town's historic district.

Funds from the organization's Decorator Show House fundraiser, opening in Glenwood tomorrow, will help support the planning stages of the project.

It would not be a working mill, said Janet Kusterer, executive director of HEC, but an educational center demonstrating how mills operated when they were the backbone of industry in the town formerly known as Ellicott Mills. "We see it as an interp- retive center for the story of Ellicott City, the mills in Ellicott City and the floods in Ellicott City," she said.

For 30 years, HEC has preserved locations in the town's historic district, including the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin, George Ellicott House and Heritage Orientation Center.

The group's centerpiece has been the B&O Railroad Station Museum on Main Street. Howard County owns the structure - the oldest railroad station in the country - but HEC restored it and has provided living-history programs and exhibits.

Now, Kusterer said, the group plans to focus its activities on the new facility.

Courtney Wilson, executive director of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, said his organization has discussed taking over management of the Ellicott City B&O museum with Howard County leaders, but plans remain "up in the air and under consideration. It seems like it would be a good fit for us."

Kusterer said her group would be sad to leave the museum that was "our baby" for three decades. But, she said, "We're ready to move on. ... we can tell a much bigger picture with the mill."

HEC members anticipate it will take several years to obtain financing and determine a design for the project. They also need to chose a location, although a piece of county-owned land along the Tiber Branch near Columbia Pike is an early favorite.

Kusterer said the project has created some excitement among HEC members.

"We are thrilled about it," she said. "We're in the preliminary planning stages, but so far, so good."

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