It wasn't a fashion show that the folks in Milan and Paris will be doing anytime soon, but a small showing of Civil War period dress held last night at an Ellicott City microbrewery presented a window to a slice of Howard County's history.
The fashion show, "Civil War: Clothing During the Conflict; A Retrospective of Civilian and Military Attire from 1855 to 1865," was part of an awards ceremony that recognizes historical renovation in Ellicott City.
The awards given by the Historic District Commission of Ellicott City went to the owners of four buildings that have undergone thousands of dollars of renovation and restoration.
The fashion show that followed was just a little something extra.
Twenty authentic period costumes were worn by volunteers, most of whom are members of the 4th North Carolina Regiment CSA Inc., a Catonsville-based Civil War re-enactment group that has been active in the Baltimore region for 30 years.
Many of the volunteers own the clothing worn during the fashion presentation. There were blue Union and gray Confederate military uniforms, and formal and day dress that would have been worn by civilians during the Civil War period.
Fans of re-enactment
Katie Bopp, a Catonsville native who works for the Rouse Co., has been involved in historic re-enactment for nearly 30 years and owns so many period costumes that she "can't even count them. They're in all my closets and on rolling racks.
"I love doing this, and people have a real strong, positive reaction to the costumes," she said, adjusting the lace collar attached to her brown striped silk day-dress. "People come out of the woodwork when they see us dressed this way."
Steve Bockmiller, who works at the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning, modeled a Union Army officer's uniform. He said the fashion show blended well with the awards ceremony for historic restoration.
"Period costume re-enactment draws attention to history in a way that historic preservation probably doesn't," Bockmiller said. "You don't get the kind of crowds to see a restored building the way you do to see a show about the fashion of a period. But they both tell stories of how people lived and worked."
The hourlong event was held at the Ellicott Mills Brewing Co., a restaurant and brew pub in a 148-year-old, two-story granite building on historic Ellicott City's Main Street. The restaurant's owners received an award for restoration.
Flood hampered renovation
Once the site of Tolbot's Lumber Co., the restaurant opened in July after an extensive renovation that was hampered by a faulty water main that flooded the restaurant's basement, causing more than $100,000 in damage.
"It's great to see the old building being used again," said former state Sen. James Clark, whose great-great-grandfather, E. A. Tolbot, built his company on the site in 1870. "It's also really nice to see the people, who put on this kind of costume showing. They must get a real kick out of it. They spend quite a lot of money doing this sort of thing."
Five awards were given out last night, two for restoration of residential buildings and two for nonresidential buildings.
Rick and Kathleen Taylor were recognized by the organization for work done to an office building on Main Street. David and Anita Gallitano were also praised for restoring their home on Church Road.
"One of the reasons you buy a historical house is that you want PTC to preserve it," Gallitano said. "It's just nice to get an award for doing it."
A fifth award was given to Historic Ellicott City Inc., a nonprofit organization celebrating its 25th year of supporting restoration and preservation in the area.
Pub Date: 5/14/98