Copyright (C) 2015 Preservation Howard County


Howard County's Top Ten Endangered Sites, 2001


The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Guilford Pratt Truss Bridge


The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Guilford Pratt Truss Bridge spans the Little Patuxent River along Old Guilford Road. The 1902 bridge represents two industries of importance to Howard County, railroading and granite quarrying.


The B&O's legacy is well known. Part of that legacy is its experimentation with and use of new bridge designs, such the Pratt Truss, patented in 1844, according to the United States National Park Service Historic American Engineering Record. Maryland was home to America's only granite production outside of New England in the early nineteenth century, and by 1890 granite production in the state had increased to 23 active quarries, according to the 1971 official Maryland Hall of Records Commission state history, The Old Line State.


The bridge is relatively secure, except for a missing roadbed, but is vulnerable to further deterioration and vandalism. PHC will continue to support and encourage Howard County's plans for the adaptive reuse of the bridge as an integral part of its planned Spinal Pathway System, connecting the historic town of Savage and Lake Elkhorn in Columbia.



In 2001, the bridge was relatively secure, except for a missing roadbed, but was vulnerable to further deterioration and vandalism. PHC met its goals to support and encourage Howard County's plans for the adaptive reuse of the bridge as an integral part of its planned Spinal Pathway System. Funding was designated for this project in 2001, and soon the bridge will be part of a system that connects the historic town of Savage to Lake Elkhorn in the "New Town" of Columbia.




Blandair is an eighteenth century farm located on approximately 300 acres in the heart of Columbia. The farm is bisected by Route 175.


The main house is a fine brick mansion with many unique architectural characteristics including decorative brickwork, fine marble fireplaces, and decorative mouldings.

In addition to the main house, Blandair has many fine outbuildings, including two barns, a stone home that may predate the main house, a log cabin, and a stone dairy.


In 1987, Celia M. Holland called Blandair "one of the county's most handsome brick houses" in her book, Old Homes and Families of Howard County, Maryland. Holland also quotes 1798 tax records as reporting: "One brick dwelling 46 x 36 two stories, one olde stone house, one olde stone kitchen, one brick smokehouse, one brick dairy."


The buildings are now deteriorating and are in critical need of basic repairs to protect them from the elements. Restoration plans for the property are currently on hold awaiting final determination of ownership by the courts. PHC plans to work aggressively to obtain State and local funds for the restoration of the farm and work with the owners to develop a plan that features this historic site.



The judge in the appeals case for Blandair has upheld the original verdict. This means that Howard County has been proclaimed the owner of the property. This is excellent news in the sense that we can move forward and start spending money on some critical needs, as well as begin creating a master plan for Blandair. PHC hopes that the interested and involved volunteers from the Blandair Foundation will be a part of this effort.


‚ÄčThe Columbia Exhibit Center


Howard County, Maryland changed forever with the birth of Columbia, and the Columbia Exhibit Center, in many ways, represents that birth.

Built in 1965-1067 and designed by the noted architect, Frank O. Gehry, the "downtown" Exhibit Center was the unofficial gateway to the planned community of Columbia, Maryland. For long-time County residents, this was their glimpse into the future. For many prospective residents, the exhibits in the Center were their first introduction to Howard County's past.


As Columbia nears completion of its planned construction, the importance of original structures such as the Exhibit Center may be overlooked. PHC is concerned about the future of the Center and hopes to ensure its continued existence and visibility as an integral part of Columbia's heritage.

The Center is one of four Columbia structures that Mr. Gehry designed for Mr. Rouse. The other three, also extant, are the Merriwether-Post Pavilion (1966-1967), Rouse Company Headquarters (1969-1974) and the Public Safety Building (1967-1968). It is PHC's view that the Exhibit Center should be preserved and considered for adaptive reuse. Furthermore, should the Center ultimately be razed for new construction, PHC believes that the "spirit" of the structure and its association with one of the most eminent architects of our age not only should, but must, be preserved through appropriate interpretation and modeling.


The National Trust for Historic Preservation noted in the May/June 2002 issue of its Preservation Magazine:

Threatened 1967 Public Safety Building and Exhibit Building, Columbia, MD: designed by an unheralded Frank Gehry long before the Bilboa Guggenheim, considered dispensable for new construction.



In 2001, Columbia witnessed the demolition of its first movie theater to make way for vertical commercial development. The demolition of its first firehouse is scheduled to take place in 2002. Although these two structures had little architectural or historical importance, their loss should serve to raise questions about which sites in the "New Town" are significant enough to save as reminders of Columbia's unique history. PHC continues to believe in the importance of the Exhibit Center. We are concerned about its future and hope to ensure its continued survival and visibility as an integral part of Columbia's heritage.





Dorsey/Arcadia Cemetery


This old family cemetery is hidden in plain view in the Valley Mede neighborhood of Ellicott City.

Originally on land belonging to a log cabin homestead that once stood on the corner of Hearthstone and Joey, the Dorsey/Arcadia cemetery is now surrounded by newer homes and development. Records exist for 36 burials inside the old stone walls, while uncounted numbers of slave graves are located directly outside the walls. The earliest recorded burial took place in 1809.


The cemetery has been forgotten and neglected. Headstones have been knocked over and the graves are overgrown with vines and other vegetation. The edges of the cemetery have become convenient dumping grounds for trash and debris. PHC hopes to bring attention, volunteers, and funds to this neglected historic resource so that it can be restored and become a useful part of its surrounding community.



In 2001, PHC focused attention and attracted volunteers, including Eagle Scout candidates, to begin the restoration of this neglected historic site. The cemetery is well on its way to becoming an integral part of the surrounding community and has been moved off the Endangered List.


The Lisbon Hotel


The Top Ten List's sole entry on the historic "National Road," now Route 144, is the Lisbon Hotel in Lisbon, built by Caleb Pancoast and reputed to be the oldest surviving building in the village, according to a 1986 Lisbon Historic District guide. The same guide calls it a "grand hotel" by the 1860s, attracting visitors from Baltimore by coach and by train. From the Howard County Sesquicentennial Commission's Howard's Roads to the Past, we learn that the hotel also housed a post office in 1851.


The availability of financial incentives to historic sites makes this an excellent candidate for restoration and adaptive reuse. Additional aid for preservation may be derived from the recent Maryland initiatives in preserving the National Road under heritage tourism programs. PHC hopes that highlighting this historic resource will serve as a catalyst for revitalization of the hotel.

Mount Joy


Mount Joy/Santa Fe Farm may have existed as a dependency of "Chews Resolution Manor" as early as 1695. Samuel Wethered is believed to have built an addition to the house in 1860. Nicknamed "Santa Fe Sam," Samuel Wethered was a long-time friend of Kit Carson's and called the home "Santa Fe."


The Historic Sites Inventory identifies the stone building lying immediately southwest of the main house as an original slave quarters. Just adjacent to the slave quarters is a log cabin clad in wood siding. This cabin may predate the main house and also may have served as slave quarters.

Mount Joy is currently scheduled for development. New homes, including single family homes, townhomes, and apartments will soon cover all but a tiny portion of the farm. All the buildings except the main house are scheduled to be demolished. PHC believes that the main house, the stone slave quarters, and the log cabin can all be salvaged, restored, and used as a centerpiece for the new community. Other outbuildings including a bank barn and peg and beam barn, which are directly in the path of the new development, could be dismantled and/or recycled for other restoration projects.



The Department of Planning and Zoning signed a waiver for the Mount Joy Farm plan. This waiver allows the portion of the road closest to the historic structures to be categorized as "private." Private roads, unlike public roads, require no setbacks, and thus no building restriction lines.

This effort was made by Winchester Homes and Howard County solely to protect the two small historic structures at Mount Joy - a log cabin and a stone structure purported to be a slave quarters by the historic sites inventory.


This is a fine example of a private developer/builder working together with the County to develop a solution that promotes historic preservation. Winchester Homes and Howard County deserve kudos for this effort.


In a separate action, at least one of Monte Joy's barns may be headed for a new home. The smaller post and beam barn has been approved for removal to Mount Pleasant.





Pfeiffer's Corner Schoolhouse


Pfeiffer's Corner was a rural area bounded by Ellicott City, Waterloo, and Elkridge. The schoolhouse was built c.1895, but possibly earlier.

In 1988, a seventh-grade class from Hammond Middle School raised $16,500 to move the schoolhouse temporarily to Clarksville.


An architectural study, which determined the original plan, was completed in 1998. The building is scheduled to be relocated to Rockburn Park. PHC encourages keeping to that schedule and wants to assist the County in completing the restoration, move, and interpretation.


The Rockburn Heritage Center



The Rockburn Heritage Center is a Howard County facility in Rockburn Branch Park in Elkridge that is a "work in progress." Despite budget constraints, completion of the project is reasonably, but not fully, assured. When completed, it was planned that Rockburn would house four historic structures, three of which are already on site:


Clover Hill


Clover Hill was built around or before 1798. The brick and frame house, with a gable roof, is an example of late eighteenth century architecture with nineteenth century additions. Clover Hill is described as being in "bad shape."








McKenzie's Bank Barn


The Aaron McKenzie Bank Barn is a late 1860's log construction barn. It was donated to Howard County in 1986 by Mrs. Jean Hannon of Ellicott City and developer Bernard Talle and moved from Ellicott City to the Rockburn site in 1987.










Phelp's Log Cabin


The Phelps or Gorman Log Cabin was a two-story log house that according to the Historic Sites Inventory may have been built as early as 1696. The cabin, formerly located on Warfield's Range, was donated to the County by the Janet Phelps family and moved to Rockburn in 1984.

On Sunday, September 23, 2001, the Phelp's Log Cabin was completely destroyed by fire. Before this sad event, the Phelp's Log Cabin and the McKenzie Bank Barn were starting into a new phase of restoration. Stone foundations for each building had been constructed and bids had been awarded to re-site these structures on the new foundations and to begin restoration.

It is a significant loss for the County and for the entire preservation community. Its life- including its origins as a settler's cabin...evolution to slave quarters and outbuildings.. and finally its move to escape an early demise due to development... has ended. The firefighters at first thought it was a storage shed, its humble exterior belying its noble roots. The fire department has determined arson as the cause of the fire Its value is, of course, incalculable.


Upper Church Road/Sylvan Lane


The Upper Church Road and Sylvan Lane area of the Ellicott City Historic Area is a unique environment threatened by future infill development. Current zoning prescribes two houses per acre when the houses in this immediate area are sited on 2.5 to 20 acre lots. A recently approved subdivision plan for this area will allow 15 homes to be built on less than six acres. This intensity of infill development threatens the rural character and historic integrity of this National Register neighborhood.


PHC hopes to work with the community and with the Department of Planning and Zoning to evaluate the special needs of this landmark area.



PHC fulfilled its initial goals for this site, which were to work with the community and with the Department of Planning and Zoning to evaluate the special needs of this landmark area and to explore options available to the residents


Woodlawn Slave Quarters


The Woodlawn Slave Quarters represents one of the few known surviving buildings of its type in Howard County.


The Historic Sites Inventory refers to "ancient stone slave quarters located on adjoining property," probably owned by members of the Dorsey family, who first came to this area in the early-to-mid 1700s. According to Joetta Cramm's Howard County, A Pictorial History, the Howard County slave inventory listed 39 Dorseys who owned 406 slaves in November, 1864.

This early significant structure is in poor repair. It currently sits on Columbia Association property. The roof has collapsed and the overgrowth of vines and vegetation threaten the integrity of the structure. PHC hopes to work with the Columbia Association to clear the structure of vines and to evaluate its structural stability.


Update :

The Columbia Association, PHC and an architectural engineer have met at the slave quarters and are taking the first steps toward developing a plan to save the structure.

Vegetation, which is currently consuming the structure, will be carefully removed this Fall, and the process of stabilizing the old stone walls will begin shortly thereafter.