An 1805 stone manor house is Historic Ellicott City's 2014 Decorator Show House. Situated on 110 acres in Glenelg, Meriwether Farm, a two-story 5,757-square-foot home, received a three-month makeover by more than a dozen interior designers in preparation for the show, which opens Satuday, Sept. 20, and runs through Oct. 19.
"It is such a popular event," said Joyce Pope, executive director of HEC. "We generally have 150 visitors per day."
Those visitors will get to explore a house that rebounded after a devastating fire in 1950 that destroyed most of its interior rooms except the original staircase and front walls.
"A good section of the house caught fire," Pope said. "They tried to salvage as much of the historic aspects as they could."
By all accounts, the house, which sat vacant a few years and is on the market, was in sound shape, Pope said. While the outside needed work, such as landscaping, the inside needed little compared to past Decorator Show Houses.
"These old houses are not wired for modern times," said Carroll Frey, design chair for HEC. "The kitchen needed work but the rest of the rooms were pretty darn good. No restoration work was needed. The wood floors were in excellent condition."
After work by professional designers who prepare the house, the kitchen is now one of Pope's favorite rooms in the house.
"It was ... really in need of a transfiguration," Pope said. "It is one of the most charming. I saw it had the potential."
Frey particularly likes the work done to create a gentleman's dressing room. While the committee thought the room could be a bedroom, the designer proposed a dressing room instead.
"There is vintage clothing in it and ... some very good antiques," Frey said. "I really like the effort and energy that was put into the gentleman's dressing room."
An "enormous screen porch" has had its screens restored, Pope added, and will be the site of the show's boutiques, selling a variety of items including hand-made purses, jewelry and chocolates.
Everything in the house's designer rooms is also for sale, Frey said. When the show is over, the rooms will be stripped down — but the home will have clean, painted walls, new wiring and landscaping.
Twenty-four pieces of hand-made wrought iron furniture left on the home's property have been painstakingly refinished and will be on the patio as a place for visitors to sit and have lunch. As in the past, light meals will be served under a tent on the property.
The popular fundraiser for Historic Ellicott City — a nonprofit that preserves and restores historic properties — the historic house tour does not always see a profit, Hope said.
"Some years we break even; some years we've lost money, particularly if there is a shuttle bus needed," Hope said. "This one cost so much inside with electrical work.
"We never know," Hope said. "It depends on the number of visitors."
The 2014 Decorator Show House, Meriwether Farm, is located at 14944 Roxbury Road, Glenelg. It will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m., from Sept. 20 to Oct. 19. Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door. Call 410-461-6908.