Revisiting the heyday of department stores and five-and-dimes

Workshops invite public to comment on downtown improvements

Do you have an idea or an opinion on how to improve downtown Ellicott City?

The county is soliciting public opinion on the $3 million allocation that Howard County Executive Ken Ulman included in the county's budget to beautify and improve the historic area.

"We are hoping for a healthy turn-out and lively participation from the residents, merchants and owners from the Historic District," said County Council member Courtney Watson, who represents Council District 1, which includes Ellicott City.

The first public workshop was held Sept. 12. The remaining two workshops are scheduled for Sept. 26 and Oct. 10, at 7 p.m., at the Roger Carter Community Center, 3000 Milltowne Drive, in Ellicott City. For more information, contact Watson at or 410-313-2001.

Start searching your storage spaces, the Howard County Historical Society is offering a wonderful opportunity to get your family heirlooms appraised. The Ellicott City-based organization is sponsoring its second annual Antiques Appraisal Fair on Oct. 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Howard Community College's Kittleman Room in Duncan Hall 100.

The organization has contracted with John Caplan Harris and Shelley Harris of Caplan's Auction Co. for the appraisals. The fair also includes the chance to purchase rare books by Johanson Rare Books and historic prints and notecards from the Don Reichle Collection of the Howard County Historical Society.

Tickets are $8 for HCHS members and $12 for nonmembers [includes two appraisals]. Additional appraisals are $5 each.

Tickets are available online now through Oct. 11, after which tickets can only be purchased at the event. To purchase tickets go to the HCHS website at and click on the "Events" tab. A portion of the ticket sales will help support the HCHS mission to collect and maintain historical records and artifacts related to Howard County's rich history.

Follow HCHS on Facebook and Twitter @hchsmd.

Interested in tracing your family tree? Or do you need assistance in your genealogy research?

The Howard County Library has scheduled three free lectures as part of its Genealogy Series. Co-sponsored by the Howard County Genealogy Society the first lecture, "Casting a Wider Net," is Wednesday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m., at the Miller Branch Library in Ellicott City. Dottie Aleshire, HCGS education chairwoman and instructor at the Family History Center, will give the lecture.

Registration is required. For more information or to register for the event, go to the Howard County Library website at and click on the "Classes and Events" tab, then click Sept. 25 on calendar, or call 410-480-3250.

The Shrine of St. Anthony offers a free historical walking tour of the 1832 manor house and shrine every last Sunday of the month. This month, the hour and a half tour will be held Sept. 29, at 2 p.m.

Situated on almost 300 acres of rolling hills and woodlands at 12290 Folly Quarter Road in Ellicott City, the Manor house is a lesson in Colonial and early American politics, dating back to the founding of Maryland.

After Caton MacTavish's death the manor house was sold to various prominent Americans including John Carroll Lee, the great grandson of Charles Carroll III and Maryland's 37th governor.

In 1928, the land and manor house was sold to the Franciscan Friars, who built a miniature sacro convento, to mimic the original a 13th century friary built in Assisi, Italy, in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. Today, the artistry and magnificence of the 1931 structure, built with material from the Beaver Dam marble quarried in Cockeysville, is still evident.

Both the historic manor house and shrine are open to the public and actively used for Mass services, spiritual events and retreats. Tours commence at the manor house. For more information, go to the shrine's website at or call 410-531-2800.

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