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Historic Ellicott City

Published: July 13, 2015

Ellicott City is a town that is proud of its rich history. After searching for an area where they could grow wheat and harness water power for a mill, brothers John, Andrew and Joseph Ellicott founded Ellicott Mills in 1772. In 1867, a city charter was secured and the name was changed to Ellicott City. Take a stroll down historic Ellicott City Main Street and the surrounding areas, and you will see many remnants from the past.

Here is a list of just some of the historic sites in Ellicott City:

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Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum: Ellicott City Station

Ellicott City Station was completed by the B&O Railroad in 1830, and is the oldest surviving railroad station in America. It is now a national historical landmark. The train station was restored as a museum and today living historians tell the story of the development of the railroad and its impact on Ellicott City.

Thomas Isaac Log Cabin

This cabin was built around 1780 by one of the first settlers of Ellicott Mills. It was reconstructed in the late 20th century as a historical spot where visitors can learn about the settlement of development of the region from authentically costumed historians.

Heritage Orientation Center

Located behind Thomas Isaac Log Cabin in the city’s first courthouse, the orientation center has exhibits and information about the floods and fires of Ellicott Mills, 18th and 19th century milling techniques and the Ellicott family.

Ellicott City Firehouse Museum

This museum is located in the county’s first firehouse constructed in 1889. Now a museum, the firehouse displays fire apparatus, model toys, and a visual history of Howard County’s Volunteer Fire Department.

Ellicott City Colored School

The one-room schoolhouse was built in 1880 as the first public school for black children in Howard County, and was used as a school until the early 1950’s. It was restored in 1995 and now houses a  genealogical resource center and a museum chronicling the history of African Americans in Howard County.

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Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park

The Patapsco Female Institute was founded in 1837 as a boarding school for girls. Now, the stabilized ruins are open for tours and serve as a setting for special events including weddings, receptions, camps, and open-air theatre.

Whether it is your first time here, or you have had a home in Ellicott City for years, there is always more to explore about the town’s past and rich historical presence. Click here for more information and visiting hours for each of these historic sites.

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