Ellicott City's Main Street is getting spruced up this spring.
For the past few days, painters have been at work caulking and priming in the historic district, and on Wednesday morning Howard County Executive Ken Ulman gave the "Main Street Matters" project its official launch, swiping a few strokes of blue paint onto the door of Archive Records, one of the newest businesses on the block.
The facelift comes courtesy of paint company Benjamin Moore, which last year held a contest that called on American and Canadian residents to cast a vote for their favorite small town using social media. To spur support for Ellicott City, the county filmed a video featuring a faux Brad Pitt walking along Main Street and encouraging people to take part in the contest.
The strategy worked: in July, Ulman announced that Ellicott City was one of 20 winning communities.
On Wednesday, Ulman said the project was about "bringing folks together to step up and make a statement about the historic district of Ellicott City.
"I know it's not easy to make progress, but we're doing it every day," he said. "The public sector plays a small role, but it’s really the private sector. It’s the merchants on Main Street, it’s the folks who live here."
County Council member Courtney Watson, who represents Ellicott City in District 1, said the town has "had its sorrrows and challenges, but this is a great day.
"The thing about this town is it's been here a lot longer than us, but every generation has people that love it," she added.
To do the paint job, Benjamin Moore has contracted with Columbia Paint and Definition Painting Services Inc. of Columbia. The company worked with the town's Historic District Partnership to choose a rich-hued palette of colors, with names like Byrd Beige, Garrison Red and Colonial Blue.
Definition Painting owner Joel Alvarado said it was "a pleasure" for his small, 18-employee business to "make this town more beautiful.
"One day, I'm going to be more than proud to walk down the street with my family and know we are part of the history here," he said.
The facades of 40 different buildings from Maryland Avenue to Old Columbia Pike will be painted as part of the project, which is expected to be finished by the end of June, weather permitting.