Springtime in Old Ellicott City

Springtime in Old Ellicott City

Spring!  It’s a time of new beginnings, color and sunlight and Old Ellicott City is blossoming with our recovery! Amazing strides have been made by the community with support from our friends at the Howard County Government.  With nearly all of our businesses reopened, it’s time to celebrate.  Robin Williams said it best, “Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”.

Everyone is invited to come and celebrate Earth Day at our annual Spring Fest, Saturday April 22!  This free family friendly event takes place throughout the entire town with 4 stages of music and performances from 20+ local & regional bands.   In addition to wine, our three ‘beer gardens’ will feature the best of Howard County craft beer from Jailbreak, Manor Hill, and our very own Ellicott Mills Brewing Company.  We’ve added margaritas too!

NEW this year is a family activity area in front of the B&O Rail Museum where kids can make their own tie dye shirt and build a masterpiece using thousands of Lego pieces.  Other kids crafts areas will offer pinwheels, egg carton caterpillars, spoon bugs, windsocks and more.   As always, our kids crafts are totally free to participate!

While you’re at the festival, stop by the Courtyards at Tongue Row and be a part of our Community Art Project.  Make a donation and get a tile to decorate.  These tiles will be assembled into a giant mosaic that will later be put on display at the Roger Carter Community Center.

Just like flowers popping up to greet the sun, many new businesses have joined our Main St.!   Plan a visit  and see what’s new here in Old Ellicott City.

A Lamp to Remember
Artists’ Gallery
Clipper’s Canine Cafe
EC Pops
Junk Girl
Made on Main
Manor Hill Tavern
Primitive Beginnings
Taylor’s Collective Antiques Arts & Artisans

Parking and a shuttle service from the outer parking lots are free.  Find out more about event parking.


Spring Fest is brought to you by The Ellicott City Partnership.

Old Ellicott City – 6 Months Later

Old Ellicott City – Six Months Later

before after salonSix months ago today, images of the destructive force of the waters that swept through Old Ellicott City on July 30th, 2016 became international news.  In less than 30 minutes, dreams were swept away, businesses destroyed, hundreds left unemployed, residents made homeless, and two lives lost.  911 switchboards were overwhelmed with calls for help.  First responders waited impatiently on the edges of town until the flash flood waters receded.  It would be months before residents could go home and businesses rebuild.

190 residents were affected.  Those evacuated by first responders had with them only the clothes they were wearing.  Many loved pets had to be left behind to be rescued another day.

90 businesses were damaged, some completely swept away.  In the weeks that followed, people began turning in items they found along the Patapsco River, hoping to give back to someone a small piece of what they had lost.

clean up 2john shoe

As clean up began, business owners, residents and volunteers stood shoulder to shoulder trying to save what they could and toss what was destroyed. For weeks, when one location was finished, they moved on to the next wearing respirator masks and hazmat suits.

In the six months that have followed since that night, more than 70 businesses have been able to reopen and most residents have gone home.  Our community is closer and stronger than ever. We are forever grateful for the support and kindness that has been shared. But with an estimated $22.4 million in property damage alone, there is still work to be done.

How can you help?  Please be our guest and come for a visit  – do a little shopping, stay for dinner. Experience the friendly and wonderful town that we call home.                                                     Ecstrong

To find out more about the funds raised and how your donations have helped us rebuild, please visit ECPartnership.org

Experience the Trolley Trail

Looking for a great walking spot?  The old Trolley Trail is a great 1.5 mile escape just on the immediate outskirts of Old Ellicott City.

The #9  trolley line arrived in Ellicott City in 1899 and served the community for the next 55 years. This route was known for its scenic woodland views as the line dropped into the Patapsco River Valley.  In 1991, a century after it’s construction, Boy Scout Troop 456, organized the effort to clear and pave the #9 Trolley Line for a bike/hike trail as part of a very successful Eagle Scout project. Today, the path is paved and features a section of boardwalk next to walls of rock that were hand-cut by the original builders.

trolley old


Highlights Of The Trail
  • Boardwalk – The trail features a boardwalk that curves between the canyons trolley boardwalkof granite that was hand-cut in the 1890s when the electric streetcar rails were built from Ellicott City to Catonsville. These 100-foot walls are a striking gateway to the trail from historic Ellicott City just across the Patapsco River from Oella.
  • A stream feeding into the Patapsco River follows along a portion of the trail providing a peaceful soundtrack to your journey.
  • Wildlife  A variety of wild life can be encountered on the path from a rare black squirrel to owls soaring silently overhead.
  • Benches dot the trail and offer a great opportunity to rest and enjoy the scenery.
Trolley woods
 What’s Nearby
  • Near the 1-mile mark, a short detour off the trail will take you to Banneker Historical Park & Museum, which has nature trails, archaeological sites, and living history areas re-creating the colonial farm and life of Benjamin Banneker, an African-American astronomer and farmer.
  • The Baltimore & Ohio Train Museum – Ellicott City Station highlights the rich history of the nation’s first railroad.
  • Along Oella Ave is The Breadery where you can get water and snacks, and Trueth’s  Meats, a butcher shop with freshly cut meats.  The Trolley Stop Restaurant  is located at the Ellicott City end of the trail.


The #9 Trolley Trail is ADA accessible and pet friendly!

trolley dogs

Parking – Lot A, located on the Baltimore County side of the Patapsco River, is the closest parking lot.  Once parked, look for a set of stairs. The trail is to your left at the top of those stairs.    ADA spaces are available at the start of the trail head on Westchester Ave.

Outdoor Dining in Old Ellicott City

From going alfresco on the moonlit decks at Cacao Lane, to sharing pitchers of sangrias in the festive LaPalapa’s patio area, Old Ellicott City has a variety of outdoor dining options for every occasion!


Outdoor Dining in Old Ellicott City

8066 Main Street
(410) 461 – 1378                                                    

Located in lower Main St, Cacao Lane has a beautiful outdoor 3 tier seating area with a terrific view of the Ellicott City skyline.  Join them on the top level for their full equiped bar or enjoy something from the full dining menu at a table located on one of the lower levels.  The deck is open seasonally and weather dependent.  Menu & info.

8167 Main Street
(410) 461 – 8210

Located in the heart of Historic Ellicott City, Johnny's Bistro .  The outdoor seating is reminiscent of a European Bistro.  Enjoy your intimate gourmet meal for two while taking in the scenery of Historic Main Street. Hours may vary so it's best to call ahead. Menu & info

Outdoor Dining in Old Ellicott City

Outdoor Dining in Old Ellicott City

8307 Main Street
(410) 465 – 0070

The only Mexican Restaurant in Old Ellicott City, La Palapa's boasts plenty of outdoor seating and is the perfect spot for large groups or dinner with the family. Stop in to enjoy an amazing Mexican meal and a refreshing Margarita on a hot summer day!   Menu & Info

3731 Hamilton Street
(410) 465 – 5995

Located on the grassy courtyards of Tonge Row, stop in for gourmet coffees, teas and custom sandwiches. Open for breakfast and lunch, vegan friendly.    Menu & info

Outdoor Dining in Old Ellicott City

Outdoor Dining in Old Ellicott City

8085 Main Street
(410) 720 – 2330

Whether you’re looking for traditional Italian style dishes such as Beef Carpaccio, Lasagna Bolognese, or Spaghetti & Meatballs, or unique preparations like Braised Beef Penne or Veal Short Ribs smothered in a wild mushroom marsala sauce, Portalli’s is the place for you. The Italian-inspired wine list is diverse but approachable for the casual wine drinker.  Enjoy a fantastic meal with a hand crafted cocktail on their rooftop deck!  Happy hour 3-6pm Menu & info

8210 Main Street
(410) 480– 5037

Their stone patio overlooking Main Street is truly the best outdoor dining view in town. Enjoy a farm fresh menu of snack plates, tapas, light meals, full Mediterranean-style dining, or even just an intimate dessert.  Sip your glass of wine with friends as you watch Ellicott City roll by. Pure Wine has enjoyed the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 5 years running.   Menu & info

Outdoor Dining in Old Ellicott City

Outdoor Dining in Old Ellicott City

3752 Hamilton Street
(410) 206-3658

The River House Pizza Company brings wood-fired artisan pizza to life!  It is the best pizza you will ever taste.  Located on the scenic courtyards on Tonge Row there's plenty of table seating and room for the kids to play.  Don't forget ScoopAHHdeedoo ice cream for dessert.   Don't want to wait?  They offer an online ordering option too! Wednesday - Sunday  Menu & info

8081 Main Street
(410) 480 – 8000

Experience an authentic English style Tea overlooking the Tiber River.  Tea on the Tiber offers a wide selection of teas accompanied by cheese, fruit, and pastries.  Reservations are requested for afternoon tea.  Menu & Info

Outdoor Dining in Old Ellicott City

Old Ellicott City Loves Cyclists

The Ellicott City Partnership (ECP) welcomes people on bikes and the tremendous amount of business they bring to Ellicott City’s shops and restaurants.  To that end, ECP has been working with the Howard County Government to add amenities for cyclists, including better signage to indicate shared traffic lanes through town, as well as a number of highly visible and conveniently located bike racks. These new bike racks will be installed in time for summer!
Sharrows (Share + Arrows) will be painted on Main Street to remind motorists that they share the roadshould expect to share the lane with cyclists and to remind cyclists that they can ride in mixed traffic where there is no bicycle lane. The painting of the sharrows is scheduled for Tuesday, March 29, 2016.  (There may be some minor traffic delays as the crews paint the sharrow symbols.)
Visitors should also note that Council Bill 3-2016 now prohibits bikes, skateboards and other play vehicles on the sidewalks within the historic district for pedestrian safety.

Facade Improvement Grant Available

There is free money available to spruce up your business or home in the Ellicott City Historic District!

“The Ellicott City Façade Improvement Program (FIP) is a program administered by the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning to aid property and business owners in the repair and restoration of commercial buildings within the Ellicott City Historic District. All FIP applications must first be reviewed and approved by the Historic Preservation Commission. Planning and Zoning staff administering the FIP will review applications concurrently with the HPC. Funds are available on a “first-come first-serve” basis and can cover up to 50% of the cost of the work up to $10,000. The 25% historic tax credit can also be utilized with the restoration work to maximize the owners affordability.”

This program covers:

• Painting
• Awnings
• Lighting
• New signs, sign repair and restoration
• Masonry repair
• Door and window repair (replacement only if with an all wood window and door)
• Removal of inappropriate or incompatible exterior finishes
• All repair or restoration work that uses traditional building materials and is shown to be an original feature of the building

To find out more about taking advantage of this grant, go to http://howardcountymd.gov/Departments.aspx?ID=4294967416#Facade

grant image

Historic Ellicott City Building History

Howard County Courthouse

“Old Howard County Courthouse” – The corner of Ellicott Mills Drive and Main Street


The Old Howard County Courthouse was built in 1840 and served as the first county seat until 1843 when the large granite courthouse was constructed on Mount Misery. Originally, it was located on Mercer Street and had an adjoining wood structure that served as stables.


By 1969, the original structure had fallen into disrepair and was slated by the county to be demolished. However, in 1970, The Howard County Historical Society convinced the county executives to sell them the property for $1.


In 1971, along with other donations, the Howard County Historical Society held a dinner/dance fundraiser and was able to raise enough money to move and restore the Old Howard County Courthouse.


Today, the Old Howard County Courthouse holds the Heritage Orientation Center. It is open daily from 11am – 4pm.



Historic Ellicott City Building History

Mt. Ida. Sarah's lane.picture-2

“Mt. Ida” – 3091 Sarah’s Lane


Mt. Ida was built in 1828 by the grandson of Andrew Ellicott, one of the founders of Ellicott City. In 1836, it was sold to Judge John Snowden Tyson and his wife, Rachel.


Mt. Ida remained in the Tyson family until their daughter, Ida, died. It was sold in 1930 to Mr. and Mrs. Louis T. Clark, who lived there until 1959.


It was originally slated to be torn down and replaced with modern office buildings, but the plans were delayed for years until the Miller Land Co. bought and restored Mt. Ida to hold the offices of the Howard County News.


Today, Historic Ellicott City, Inc. operates tours out of this beautiful building.

Historic Ellicott City Building History

Cacao Lane

“Cacao Lane” 8066 Main Street


8066 Main Street is believed to have been built sometime around 1837 by Andrew McLaughlin who, at the time, was building the Patapsco Hotel.


Not long after it was built, 8066 Main Street was divided in two and sold to different people. In 1848, Ann Hunt acquired the east section. Ann Hunt’s daughter, Elizabeth Hunt, eventually owned the property on the east and her brother, Thomas Hunt, owned the west.


Elizabeth Hunt operated a Ladies Millinery Shop, which sold women’s accessories. Thomas Hunt, on the other hand, ran Hunt’s General Store out of the west side.


In the 1970’s, Cacao Lane Restaurant, an American Bar and Grill, opened on one side of the building. The owners eventually reunited the structure and restored it to what it is today. Through the years, Cacao Lane Restaurant has expanded their business into three bars, including an outdoor deck area (open seasonally), and a beautiful dinning room all while maintaining the historical integrity of the building.


Historic Ellicott City Building History

Ellicotts Country Store

“The Alexander Walker House” 8180 Main Street


The Alexander Walker House was built in the 1790’s as a private residence. However, as was customary of the time, travelers often visited and were not turned away, much to the chagrin of Mr. Walker, who was not fond of strangers. It is even rumored that, when he fell to his death from a second story window, a visitor whom Mr. Walker had quarreled with pushed him.


In 1864 land records show that an administrator of Mr. Walker’s estate sold the property. The Walker House went on to serve as several businesses including a bootery, tavern, headquarters for the Red Cross, and the offices of C&P Telephone Company.


In 1962, The Walker House became Ellicotts Country Store. Still operating today, Ellicotts Country Store is a great place to visit and explore. They offer a wide variety of vintage and new items that are a must have for anyone’s home!