Her face smudged with black soot, Enalee Bounds stood in Ellicott's Country Store last week surveying the fire-damaged antiques in the shop she has owned for 30 years.
A two-alarm fire Wednesday night caused extensive smoke and water damage to Bounds' store in the 8100 block of Main Street and to an adjacent building that houses the craft shop Heirlooms and two apartments.
Bounds and her husband, Roland, were on vacation in the British West Indies when their son, Steve, called with news of the fire.
"He told me it was bad, but I didn't know it was this bad," she said ofthe fire damage. "But we're very lucky that it's still standing and basically it's in good shape."
Known as the Walker Chandler house,the historic building that houses Ellicott's Country Store dates to 1790 and was the first duplex in the country, Bounds said. Built of Ellicott City granite, the structure was home to the Walker and Chandler families, who each lived in one half of the house.
The Boundses, who have been in the forefront of preservation efforts in Ellicott City since they moved to the area in 1962, faithfully restored the entire building about ten years ago. Antiques surround the original fireplaces from the Walker and Chandler kitchens on opposite walls of the store.
The fire destroyed some of the antique glass windows and an addition in the back of the building from the Victorian period, but there was little structural damage, Bounds said.
Damage to merchandise on the first floor was minimal compared to that on the top three floors, where losses to smoke and water were heavy.
Bounds plans to meet with the restoration expert who oversaw the first renovation of the building before she thinks about when she'll reopen the store.
"We'll be back in full swing," she said. "I don't know how longit'll take, but we'll be back."
The Heirlooms store at 8182 Main Street was not seriously damaged, but the fire left the two upper-level apartments "uninhabitable," said Deputy Battalion Chief Donald Howell. Th three occupants in one of the apartments escaped the fire unharmed. The residents of the other apartment weren't home during the fire, said Howell.
Firefighters arrived on the scene at about 9 p.m. to find smoke coming from the front of Ellicott's Country Store andthe back of the building in flames, Howell said. Battling the fire was particularly difficult because of the district's steep hills and narrow streets.
"It's an historic mill town built on the contours of the land, not like the planned communities of Columbia," Howell said.
Fire officials estimated structure and contents damage to 8192 Main St. at $60,000, and total damage to Ellicott's Country Store at $225,000.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the state Fire Marshal's Office.