IT'S LIKE something out of one of those decorating shows on cable television: Young couple moves into a farmhouse more than 100 years old and turns it over to a pack of decorators.
With two jobs and two young children, Brian and Debbie Kemp of Ellicott City didn't have time to fix up their house. So they asked if it could be a Decorator Show House for Historic Ellicott City Inc.
In short order, local decorators were swarming around the Victorian, sketching and swathing and doing all the things designers do. And the labor didn't cost the Kemps a cent.
The Kemps' home, called Cloverdale, will be opened to the public as the 18th annual Decorator Show House sponsored by Historic Ellicott City Inc.
It sounds like a dream come true - but there are a few catches. The Kemps didn't get much say on the designs. And people will soon be trooping through their home, fingering the finials and peering at the pastels. And, perhaps worst of all, the furniture, drapes, lighting fixtures and even the landscaping will be removed once the show is over.
Historic Ellicott City Inc. was formed in 1973 after Tropical Storm Agnes damaged downtown Ellicott City, according to Janet Kusterer, president of the nonprofit corporation. The organization is responsible for maintaining the Ellicott City B&O; Railroad Station, Thomas Isaac's Log Cabin, and the Heritage Orientation Center.
Money raised from the show house is used for preservation, restoration and education in the historic part of Ellicott City.
Kusterer said the organization usually chooses homes with some history for the show. Once the house is selected, designers are assigned rooms and told suggested uses for the space, such as office or nursery. The designers then do their presentations. "We approve it, then it goes to the homeowner," Kusterer said. The homeowners are allowed to reject the concept.
"We try to accommodate the homeowner - but not completely," Kusterer said, explaining that the showcase is a chance for local designers to show what they can do. Once the show is over, the homeowners can "keep everything that's attached," such as wallpaper, she said.
Although a different designer is assigned to each room, efforts are made to create a unified feeling throughout the house.
Cloverdale, which is on Old Frederick Road, will be open to the public Sept. 21 through Oct. 20. The hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. It will be closed Mondays.
Tickers are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. A preview party is scheduled from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 19. The $70 event includes a meal catered by Tersiguel's, as well as music and a ribbon-cutting ceremony with County Executive James N. Robey. "It's a nice party, and it kicks off the house," Kusterer said.
Information: Historic Ellicott City Inc., 410-461-5684 or www. ecbo.org.
Civil War program
The Miller branch library will offer a living-history presentation of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday.
The unit, which was featured in the Denzel Washington movie Glory, was made up of nearly 180,000 African-Americans from both Northern and Southern states. Nearly 35,000 members of the 54th Massachusetts lost their lives while fighting for the Union.
During the event, re-enactors will discuss the contributions of these soldiers and answer questions.
The Howard High Band Boosters will hold a yard sale Sept. 28 to benefit the marching band unit and poms.
The sale will be at Howard High School from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. A $10 fee for a vendor space can be sent with a self-addressed envelope to: Howard High Band, 8700 Old Annapolis Road, Ellicott City, 21043 by Sept. 20.
Remembering Sept. 11
Dorsey Emmanuel United Methodist Church will hold a service of remembrance at 8 p.m. Wednesday. The candlelight service will remember the events of Sept. 11. It will be held outdoors, weather permitting.
The church is at 6951 Dorsey Road in Elkridge. Information: 410-796-8598.
News from Norbel
Peggy McCardle of the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development will give a lecture, "From Research to Practice - Teaching Children to Read," at the Norbel School on Oct. 15.
McCardle, a former grade school teacher, is associate chief of the child development and behavior branch in the Center for Research for Mothers and Children at NICHD.
The 7 p.m. lecture is open to the public, but registration is required. Information: Krys Renzi, 410-796-6700 or krenzi@norbel school.org.
The Norbel School in Elkridge is for children with language-based learning disabilities and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The school is undergoing renovation and is opening this school year with a playground, basketball court and soccer field, and a multimedia center.