Howard County Times

Mt. Ida, historic Ellicott City home built in the 1820s, for sale for $1.25 million

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Mt. Ida, the historic Ellicott City home built in the late 1820s for the grandson of one of the community’s founders, is for sale for $1.25 million.

Kimberly Kepnes and Nathan Sowers, longtime Ellicott City business owners and residents, said Monday that selling the property is one of the many solutions they are exploring to stay afloat amid the difficulties the coronavirus pandemic has brought on.


The couple purchased the property in October 2019 with the intention of using the home to operate a bed and breakfast and events venue.

“We are like everyone that lives here. We love this town and the idea of being a part of it. A year later, mortgage payments later, insurance, architect fees and mounting expenses, we can see it not in our future,” Kepnes said.


The historic property, at 3691 Sarahs Lane, was built in 1828 by Charles Tumanus for William Ellicott, the grandson of Andrew Ellicott, one of Ellicott City’s founders. Before Kepnes and Sowers, the home was owned by the Miller Land Company.

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Mount Ida, named for one-time resident Ida Tyson, was the site of Historic Ellicott City Inc.‘s annual Decorator Show Houses in 1995 and 2013. The four-bedroom, two-bathroom house sits on 3.63 acres.

The property has not been operational for nearly a year due to zoning regulations. During that time, the couple said it’s been difficult to pay for a business that’s not bringing in any revenue.

“We’re not alone. There are lots of other businesses that are going through what we are,” Kepnes said. “We have the ability to sell the property, so that’s on the table for us.”

According to the county’s Zoning and Land Use website, Kepnes filed two amendments on Aug. 3 to make their bed and breakfast eligible for the uses allowable under the property regulations in the Historic Office zoning district. The next step in the zoning process is a Planning Board hearing, which does not yet have a date scheduled.

Sowers said he and Kepnes have waited nearly a year to go through the bureaucratic procedures that have been made more difficult due to the pandemic, hoping the county would provide assistance to move the process along.

Kepnes said they did not qualify for COVID-19 business relief because their business isn’t yet in operation. For now, she’s stuck between pushing through the immediate situation or forgoing that process and selling.

“We would love to be able to proceed with our plans, [but] multiple years with an empty building is hard to manage,” Kepnes said. “It feels like a defeat; it feels like I’m giving in.”