We are in the midst of Howard County Restaurant Weeks right now. They end on Aug. 4. I think this is a wonderful idea, especially when restaurants serve up something new and different, showing what they can do.
And, of course, the usually less expensive prices are a good thing, too. You can go on Howard County Tourism's website to see the restaurants participating and check out the special menus. I must say that it's counter-productive for some restaurants not to have the menus available there — I want to know what the deal is before I go.
Anyway, two Historic District restaurants are participating this time around. Portalli's has a $30.14 three-course dinner menu featuring such interesting offerings as grilled watermelon, cioppino and a peach blueberry tart. Tersiguel's has a $20.14 lunch and a $40.14 dinner that includes favorites like Odette's pate, leek soup, poached salmon and house-made ice creams and sorbets. Don't miss out!
Aug. 1 is First Friday in the Historic District. Many shops stay open later and there is live music on the Plaza in front of the Railroad Station Museum.
Every Saturday morning the Old Town Market continues, in both the parking lot behind Tonge Row and at the Wine Bin. The market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Support your local farmers.
Saturday evening the free outdoor concerts and movies continue. The concerts run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. behind Tonge Row and the movies start at 9 p.m. at the Wine Bin. On Aug. 2, the concert features the Roadside Show and on Aug. 9 it's the Highland Boys. The movie on Aug. 2 is "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" and on August 9 "Jack Ryan, Shadow Recruit."
One of the true movers and shakers in the Historic District, Jacque Galke, retired on July 24. Jacque has been making things happen around town for 20 years now, more than 10 of them with the Department of Recreation and Parks.
She has arranged programming and visitation at the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park, the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin, the Firehouse Museum, the Heritage Orientation Center and the Ellicott City Colored School, Restored. She also organized the annual Hands on History day at the Howard County Fair (I loved doing that one because so many people came through to enjoy the air conditioning as well as the exhibits.) I hope Jacque thoroughly enjoys her retirement.
Preservation Howard County has announced this year's list of endangered sites in Howard County, and three of them are in the Historic District. This list draws attention to places in Howard County that we need to be aware of, and to support the efforts made to preserve them.
The Ellicott City Jail is one of these. It was built in 1878 and is tucked away in a corner near the Circuit Courthouse. Right now it's being used for storage, and according to PHC has some asbestos problems as well, but it's near where the new staircase connecting the upper courthouse area to Main Street behind the Brewing Company is being built, so its potential as a tourist attraction has increased. And, rumor has it that it's haunted, so it might be an interesting addition to Tourism's Ghost Tours.
Another Historic District listing is the Heine House, sitting at the back edge of Parking Lot F, behind the Log Cabin. The Heine House is a stone structure built in the mid-1800s. The group worries that the building might be compromised by proposed construction in the parking lot.
Last is the road itself — Main Street is part of the National Road. PHC wants to raise awareness of the historical significance of the road, built in the early 1800s, and the first major highway funded by the federal government to connect Baltimore's harbor to the western territories. Lots of history just outside our doors. Appreciate it.