Howard County is often seen as a young, fast-growing suburb, but an annual list of the county's top 10 endangered historic sites compiled by the group Preservation Howard County tells another story.
For Fred Dorsey, president of Preservation Howard County, that story began in 1642 when his ancestor, Edward Dorsey — known as "Edward the Immigrant" — arrived in Virginia from England.
To escape persecution for his Quaker faith, that original Dorsey migrated north into Maryland, Fred Dorsey said, and ended up in what is now Howard County. The list, which Dorsey's group has produced each year since 2001, is intended to highlight the relics of the 18th and 19th centuries that still survive.
"These sites were the forerunners of what Columbia and Howard County developed into," Dorsey said. "We're doing this because we feel there's not enough attention given to historic sites by the county. These sites are important, and should be important."
On this year's list is the Thomas Viaduct, one of America's oldest railroad bridges, opened on July 4, 1835, and spanning the Patapsco River. The bridge is owned and maintained by CSX, Dorsey said, but the railroad doesn't maintain the aesthetic aspects of the structure, which was guarded by Union troops throughout the Civil War. A private group, Friends of the Patapsco Valley and Greenway Heritage, is raising money to fix the iron railing manufactured in Savage and to build a public viewing platform to see the majestic stone bridge.
Not everything on the list is old, however. The former Rouse Co. headquarters building on Lake Kittamaqundi is also on the list to help guarantee that when the planned town's central core is redeveloped, the building is preserved. preservationists may get a boost with that goal from John E. DeWolf III, the Howard Hughes Corp. senior vice president named Thursday to head the downtown redevelopment project.
DeWolf said he's a great admirer of the Rouse building and wants to enhance its beauty and stature. "I'd really like to see something happen with it," he said.
Also on the group's list are Belmont, the 18th-century Elkridge estate now up for sale by Howard Community College, and Doughoregan Manor, the nearly 300-year-old Ellicott City estate of the Carroll family. Howard County approved plans that would allow most of Doughoregan Manor to be preserved, but an appeal of the rezoning is pending, leaving the complex deal in question, Dorsey explained. The Carrolls are descendants of Charles Carroll of Carrolton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
The old Ellicott City Jail behind the Circuit Court building, the 1759-vintage Highland Crossroads intersection, the entire Ellicott City Historic District, and the National Road, the early 19th-century version of U.S. 40, are also included. Clover Hill, an 18th-century house in Rockburn Park in Elkridge, is on the list as well.
Finally, the group listed one building just to celebrate a still-unfulfilled goal. The Daisy Schoolhouse, a one-room school, was dismantled. Its pieces are being stored while money is raised to rebuild it at the Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum in West Friendship.