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Taylor's Collective in Ellicott City pools talents of local artists, artisans and vendors

The signature building on the corner of Main Street and Old Columbia Pike in Ellicott City has a new life.

Once the home of Taylor's Furniture, Jewelry and Appliances, in November it became Taylor's Collective, where artisans, artists and purveyors of high-quality antiques and furnishings arrived join forces and pool their talents.

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A lot of water has flowed down Main Street since Retropolitan vintage retailer Cindi Ryland and property owner (with Dr. Bruce Taylor) Don Reuwer discussed the future of the 1924 structure, constructed on a house built the previous century, and most recently an antiques store.

Now, instead of a warren of nooks and crannies occupied by assorted dealers,an industrial-style staircase connects two heart pine-floored, light-flooded levels where 20-some galleries and shops invite customers to select one-of-a-kind gifts. On the third level there are artists' studios.

Collective member Maury Dickson has worked with Ralph Lauren and had a line of furniture sold at Harrods in London. Now he treats us to steampunk paraphernalia, from guitars and amps to light fixtures and clocks to jewelry and mechanical bugs — never the same thing twice. His materials are often found objects circa 1870 to1930.

"I relate steampunk to Victorian science fiction," Dickson says. "And I've always enjoyed making people laugh with objects of the unusual and, of course, high taste."

Steve Bradigan, also in the Collective, trolls Maryland and neighboring states for lumber: reclaimed barn wood, downed trees with live wood edges, and salvaged material such as a World War II Liberty ship hatch cover and pieces of Coney Island's redwood boardwalk, post-Hurricane Sandy. Adding some steel, he turns them into furnishings he calls "just a little bit rustic" for his company, Loft56.

While he continues his day job, Bradigan's kids talked him into going commercial with his woodworking hobby, almost entirely by commission.

Seeing the space now, it would be hard to believe that the sky opened up over Ellicott City this summer and buildings like the almost completely remodeled Collective were split apart by flood waters. Instead of opening for business, Taylor's became one of three threatened with condemnation. It was saved when Waverly Builders owner Trae "Atlas" Reuwer and a crew of two hefted a dozen tree-sized oak timbers into place to support a washed-out wall until permanent concrete and masonry repairs could be finished.

That's an art in itself.

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