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Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage
maryland house and garden pilgimage

Baltimore County – Oella

Saturday May 13, 2017 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
10 am to 5 pm

SPECIAL PROJECT Proceeds from the Pilgrimage will provide interpretive signage to enhance the No. 9 Trolley Trail, a picturesque and well-used, paved path starting within the National Register community which formerly provided streetcar access between Ellicott City and Baltimore. The Trolley Trail signs will provide insight into the history through which it passes, such as how the Cooper’s Branch stream got its name (barrels were made alongside) and how Ellicott City’s founders were connected to local landowner Benjamin Banneker, often considered America’s first African American man of science (Sites #1 and #2). They will also focus on how geology effected development, such as the 60’ deep cut adjacent to #13 The Alhambra necessary to bring the trolley line through the stone hillside, Oella schist, and Ellicott City’s geologically significant granite that were so important to the early millers settling in the area.

Proceeds will supplement funds for a sign for the #10 Ellicott City/Oella Entrance Garden, a visible and popular respite adjacent to the river created with 2008 Pilgrimage proceeds; and another for #3 Oella Cemetery, established for textile millworkers and their families, which after decades of neglect is being cared for once again. The new Entrance Garden sign will document the fascinating history of the area and its relationship to the Patapsco River Valley’s unique environmental resources, such as the fall line waterpower, which sparked the milling and village. To the extent possible, proceeds will also improve landscaping at the Oella Entrance Garden and/or the Oella Cemetery which is an underfunded project. These new interpretive signs will raise awareness in the community and to visitors of the sites’ historical significance. This link to Oella’s history will enhance community pride and appreciation. Through the signage, the unique story of Oella can be traced and unfolded for the next generation.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~HISTORY~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This tour celebrates Oella, a revived textile mill village nestled among the wooded hills and winding roads along the Patapsco River across from Ellicott City. Named for the first woman to spin cotton in America, its fortunes have followed the mill and the river’s immense waterpower. The mill, founded by the Union Manufacturing Company, was briefly the largest cotton mill in the nation. The 1.75-mile millrace was the longest in America to power a single mill, and though hurricane-damaged, still exists today. Throughout its 200 plus years, the mill and Oella experienced both prosperous and depressed times, enduring floods and fires. In 1887, the company sold at auction the village and mill to William J. Dickey, who shifted production to woolens. A devastating fire swept through the mill complex early in 1918, but the Dickeys promptly rebuilt the mill in brick and went forward to achieve distinction as America’s foremost producer of men’s sport coat fabrics. Declining demand for these woolens forced the mill to close in 1972. The mill passed through a succession of owners, while a great grandson of W. J. Dickey bought the surrounding village. Shortly afterward, Oella began a time of rebirth, gaining public water and sewer service in the 1980s and beginning the restoration of its historic houses. The mill too is experiencing rebirth as upscale apartments. The mill was the beating heart of Oella, but its people were its backbone. Here they lived, worked, played, worshiped, shopped, and socialized with one another. As mill workers, they lived in the housing built and owned by the mill company until the automobile made housing nearby unnecessary. Slightly over 100 of the original mill homes within the National Register district still stand. The village homes showcase a visual time line and diversity of architecture. Log cabins and stone homes tucked into the steep slopes appeared in the early 1800s, and brick semi-detached and row houses appeared before 1850. Later in the 19th century, frame houses, many with bracketed cornices, were built. Around the time of World War I and shortly thereafter, cottage style kit homes manufactured by the Aladdin Company added to the diversity. Today, due to the decades of work of visionary Charles L. Wagandt II, Oella is a blend of revitalized historic houses and tasteful new homes. Rehabilitation projects continue with additional new construction underway. Historic Oella is a testimony to the people who have adapted to economic and life changes and worked to preserve this unique community for future generations.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ DIRECTIONS ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

BALTIMORE, WASHINGTON, DC AND EAST: Take Baltimore Beltway I-695 to Exit 13 West (Catonsville). On Frederick Road/MD-144, go West 2.5 mi. to Oella Avenue. Turn Right (North) 0.5 mile to Site #1, entrance on Left.
HOWARD COUNTY SOUTH AND WEST: From Route 29 (Columbia Pike), take Exit 24A East onto Route 40 (Baltimore National Pike) for 0.4 mile. Turn Right at light onto Rogers Avenue South for 0.5 mi. Bend Right downhill onto Ellicott Mills Drive for 0.6 mile. Turn Left at light onto Main St. (Ellicott City), and continue 0.5 mile across Patapsco River Bridge. Either take first Left onto Oella Avenue at Site #10, Ellicott City/Oella Entrance Garden, to limited parking in Lot A on right just after stone abutments or continue on Frederick Road/MD-144 1.3 mi. to second Oella Ave. entrance on Left (It’s a horseshoe shaped loop off Frederick Road.) 0.4 mile to Site #1, entrance on Left.

PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION: Circulating tour bus service will be available for Oella MHGP ticket holders to all buildings/sites on the tour. Parking in Oella is only permitted in designated lots: Site #1, Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum at 300 Oella Avenue, and limited parking in Lot A, the public parking lot at 1280 Oella Avenue. Patrons may embark and disembark the circulating buses at designated stops. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ LUNCH ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Eggspectation of Columbia looks forward to serving our guests a delicious boxed lunch between 10 a.m.– 2 p.m. at #1 Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum, located at 300 Oella Avenue, Catonsville/Oella. Some seating will be available inside and in an outdoor tent for those enjoying Eggspectation lunches on site. Menu includes a choice of roast beef, turkey, ham, or vegetarian/ vegan wrap, berry salad, mixed green salad, chips, cookie, bottled water or soda, and a special surprise. Your check, pre-paid for $12 per meal, will secure your lunch reservation (no online purchase option), if received by May 3rd at Oella MHGP ticket sales locations, including The Oella Company at 803 Oella Avenue, Oella MD 21043-4729. Please make check payable to the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage–Oella, and include your choice of wrap with payment. Luncheon tickets on the day of the tour can be purchased for $15 cash or check at the on-site ticket sales desks at #1 Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum and
#12 George Ellicott House.


300 Oella Avenue, Oella 21228

The Banneker Park and Museum preserves the property that once belonged to Benjamin Banneker, often considered the first African American man of science. The Banneker family successfully farmed their 100-acre colonial farmstead, growing tobacco, wheat, and corn, along with an orchard and vegetables. The free African American family sold produce to the Ellicotts in nearby Ellicott City. Born in 1731, Benjamin Banneker had little formal training, yet taught himself mathematics and astronomy, enabling him to calculate the position of celestial bodies and author his useful almanacs, published in six consecutive years in the 1790s. Because of his expertise with astronomy and scientific instrumentation, Banneker was chosen by neighbor Andrew Ellicott to assist him in the 1791 survey of the boundary of the Federal Territory, Washington, D.C. Museum exhibits include archaeological artifacts and exhibits detailing Banneker’s accomplishments. The Farmstead includes a replica log cabin, orchard, tobacco patch, beehives and gardens. Park is comprised of 142 acres of wooded habitat, including six miles of hiking trails. Owner: Baltimore County Recreation and Parks.



318 Oella Avenue, Oella 21228

(On park grounds.) A full width front porch and decorative eaves adorn the locally quarried stone dwelling. The three-story, granite house, built in 1851, is one-room-deep with a small rear addition. The property surrounding the Molly Bannaky House, recently re- named in honor of Benjamin Banneker’s English grandmother, be- longed to Banneker’s family during the 18th century, and later the Ellicott family. From 1850-1910, the Hynes family raised several generations in the house, home to several families who ran small farming operations. Some descendants still live nearby, as does the Treuth family, the last private owners. The house was acquired by Baltimore County as part of the grounds of the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum and was renovated for park offices and meeting space in 2004. An accessibility ramp and patio garden were added. Owner: Baltimore County Recreation and Parks.
Photo Courtesy of Bob Belas



514 Rest Avenue, Oella 21228  

The Union Manufacturing Company set aside this hillside burial ground where the oldest graves date to within a few years of the 1808 mill’s founding. Acquired in 1878 by W.J. Dickey & Sons as part of the purchase of the mill village, interments continued in the mill village cemetery until c.1950. An estimated 380 mill workers
and their families, including many children, are among those buried here. As a company cemetery without established perpetual care, it had fallen into neglect. The Oella Historical Society has begun to clean up the property with the help of Boy Scouts, Patapsco Heritage Greenway and community members, and initiated a grave and headstone documentation project. More work is needed to stabilize the headstones, research the historical boundaries and respectfully maintain the site. Caretaker: Oella Historical Society.



2312 Westchester Avenue, Oella 21228

Mt. Gilboa is the oldest active African American church in Baltimore County. As early as 1799, Mt. Gilboa served as the African Meeting House and burial lot. Widow Mary Williams had bequeathed this tract to her former slaves in 1786. Neighbor Benjamin Banneker may have attended services on site. Mt. Gilboa was associated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church as early as the first Annual Conference held in Baltimore in 1817. Free African Americans constructed this stone church in 1859 as replacement for an earlier log chapel. The front façade is ashlar; the sides and rear are rubble stone. Flanking quarter-turn stairs lead up to the plastered sanctuary atop the Sunday School and social area, previously used as a one-room school. Pastor: Rev. Dr. Anita J. Gould.
Photo Courtesy of Geoffrey Baker Photography



706 Race Road, Oella 21043 

This contemporary Craftsman style home capitalizes on its stunning site overlooking the Patapsco River banks, adjacent to the Patapsco Valley State Park. The property connects the park with a walking trail via a wooden bridge constructed by the Oella Homeowners Association, allowing Oella neighbors to stroll along the millrace. Wrapping around the property, the millrace formerly provided water from the river to power the textile mill downstream. The site once sheltered the early 1800s Union Mill horse stables. The foundation walls are still visible today. Wishing to preserve the property’s history and original topography, the designers sited the house next to the stable’s foundation to envelop a perennial garden. Spiral stairs lead up to a trapezoidal screened-in porch offering bird’s eye views of the garden and river, complete with a gas fireplace to warm chilly nights. Large windows, side decks and Juliet balcony off the dining room provide ample opportunity to take in natural surroundings below. The exterior shows great attention to detail with solid wood front and garage doors. Interior finishes focus on comfort, natural materials and a rich color palette. Owners: Dick and Ebhlin Henggeler.
Photo Courtesy of Geoffrey Baker Photography



744 and 746 Oella Avenue, Oella 21043 

A remarkable group of 19 attached hillside rowhomes hug Oella Avenue as it curves up and away from the Patapsco River. Oella’s Union Manufacturing Company built these three-level brick and stone dwellings around the 1830s to house their textile mill workers, who often raised large families in Long Brick Row’s tiny, six-room
homes without indoor plumbing. Outhouses, wells, natural spring water pumps, and chicken coops remained vital into the mid-1980s. These narrow rowhomes feature wide-plank, heart pine flooring secured with cut nails, as well as fieldstone cooking fireplaces and recently exposed brick walls and wood beams. Owners have demonstrated ingenuity in using the small spaces, from their tiny gardens to Kristen Van Zandt’s kitchen nooks. Her eclectic furnishings have their own stories to tell, with cabinets crafted of repurposed tobacco boxes and wood from old chicken coops. Behind the intricate stained-glass window on the main level representing the four seasons, she displays the unique shoes, belts, purses and jewelry that she designs with vivid Guatemalan fabrics responsibly sourced from Mayan artisans. At the upper end of the row, craftsman/owner James Wagandt skillfully used his lower-level woodworking shop to create custom curly maple cabinetry, a kitchen table, anda living room shelf fashioned from a tree trunk slice. He also uncovered and restored the lap-on-lap plank wall construction beside his winder stairwell.
Photo Courtesy of Geoffrey Baker Photography



840 Oella Avenue, Oella 20143

On this site once stood the first textile mill chartered by the state of Maryland. The Union Manufacturing Company capitalized upon the immense waterpower of the Patapsco River and briefly achieved renown as America’s largest cotton mill. After a 1918 electrical fire destroyed the original stone mill complex, W.J. Dickey and Sons immediately rebuilt their mill in brick and later became known as the nation’s foremost manufacturer of fancy menswear woolens. Changing market conditions prompted closing in 1972, right before Tropical Storm Agnes. In 2005, Southern Management Corporation, the largest, Mid-Atlantic, privately owned, residential property management company, purchased the mill complex with plans to renovate. The historically significant industrial structure was carefully rehabilitated under the standards and guidelines of state and federal historic preservation agencies. Perched above the rapids of the Patapsco River, this one-of-a-kind ensemble of rental apartments combines distinctive luxury with genuine historic ambiance. Outfitted with the latest features and amenities, materials, and finishes, the 147 incredible units include huge, factory-style windows with spectacular river and wooded hillside views. Owner: Southern Management Corporation. 



970 Oella Avenue, Oella 21043

Set on the edge of the Patapsco River, this former millworker home features expansive views of the State Park. From the riverside deck, one can see clearly the boundary stone in the river marking the 1808 founding year of the Union Manufacturing Company, Oella’s original mill company. Built atop the original stone foundation of the Old Newside Methodist Church, the quaint frame Bungalow c. 1900 with its rusticated concrete block foundation and hipped roof were erected by the textile mill company. It is possibly a kit house, as were seven other Aladdin Company kit houses erected in Oella (1917-1925).
Many original features, including five-panel doors, varnished trim, and wood floors were retained during 1988 remodeling to dig out the basement and modernize the lower level. On display is an extensive set of Haviland China from the early 1900s and a Murano glass chandelier. Owners: Elena and Richard Pearl.
Photo Courtesy of Geoffrey Baker Photography




1277 Oella Avenue, Oella 21043

Oella’s 2008 MHGP provided initial funding for design and creation of the attractive riverside garden that is the gateway to Oella and Ellicott City. The landscape plan predominantly featured native plants and offered an opportunity for art installation. A tireless Patapsco Heritage Greenway volunteer, spent much time kayaking, hiking, doing stream clean-ups, and creating art, especially constructing stacked rock cairns in the river near this bridge. Upon his passing, PHG’s Board selected the garden as a perfect spot to memorialize this Defender of the Patapsco by replicating his river cairns as the garden’s focal point. The garden was designated as a “Monarch Waystation” butterfly garden by Monarch Watch. On July 30th, severe flooding of this picturesque scene of wedding proposals and photo shoots caused damage that was promptly repaired with community support. Caretakers: Master Gardeners, local volunteers, Patapsco Heritage Greenway, Baltimore and Howard Counties.



2711 Maryland Avenue, Ellicott City 21043

This B&O Railroad Station is the oldest surviving railroad station in America, and was the original terminus of the first 13 miles of commercial railroad in the country, popularly known for the race between the Tom Thumb locomotive and a horse-drawn car. The Museum’s restored features include the iconic Ellicott City granite Main Depot building, constructed in 1830-31; the freight house, designed by E. Francis Baldwin and built in 1885; and a 1927 Class I-5D Caboose. A 40’ HO-gauge model train layout showing the original rail track stretching from Baltimore to Ellicott Mills is displayed in the freight house; the operating layout features an introductory video and light show. Living historians tell the story of the development of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the nation’s first common carrier railroad, and its impact on Ellicott City between 1827 and 1868. 



24 Frederick Road, Oella 21043

The Ellicott family settled here along the fall line of the Patapsco River in 1772 and built an innovative, water-powered flour mill. As merchant millers, they helped transform local farming from tobacco to wheat. George Ellicott, an entrepreneur and son of founder Andrew Ellicott, built his granite house in 1789. It housed his astronomical observatory where he encouraged Benjamin Banneker, America’s first African American man of science, to learn and explore. Ellicott also entertained in his home American Indian Chiefs whom he had befriended. Severely damaged in the 1970s by hurricanes and floods, this house tenuously survived, becoming the last of the 18th century homes that once lined the banks of the Patapsco River in the Ellicott City/Oella area. In 1987 the main house was stabilized and moved in- tact out of the floodplain across Frederick Road, part of the historic turnpike from Baltimore westward to the National Road. Set on a new foundation, in 1990 the architecturally and historically important house was painstakingly rehabilitated for office use. The architecture, specifically its entry doorway, brick end chimneys, paneled doors, heart pine floors, chair rail, and gracious staircase, is balanced by a modern link connecting the main structure to the reassembled rear addition. Owner: StoneBridge Advisors, Inc.



2901 Westchester Avenue, Oella 21043 

Located on the sweeping green brow of the hill above town and river, the white frame villa references the imposing castle of the same name in Granada, Spain, both with square towers, set atop a rocky, wooded hill. Once overlooking the industries below that generated funds to finance such an elegant and architecturally trendy house in 1859, the Alhambra’s style references the transition from Greek Revival to Italianate architecture. Johnathan Ellicott of Elias was distinguished from the other Ellicotts by his name and was the 11th grandson of Andrew Ellicott, one of the original founders of Ellicott Mills. His house interprets his family business prosperity, though he himself never lived there, according to his Executor’s notice of sale in 1861. In 1895 the Ellicott City Electric Railway Company won the right in court to make a remarkably deep cut through the stone hillside 60’ from the house for its trolley line right-of-way. Today that cut serves as the walking/biking Trolley Trail. New owners have preserved and enhanced the lovely home’s gracious woodwork, a period claw foot tub, windows that slide up so one can walk out onto the porches and stepped gardens responding to the hillside terrain.



1007 Lillies Lane, Oella 21043

As though entering a photo shoot for a decorator’s magazine, simplicity and harmony weave a backdrop for this modern townhome. The sophisticated style of the décor flows seamlessly from the home office up through the living areas and into the upper bedrooms. The interiors demonstrate understated elegance, reflecting the owners’ passion for texture, fabrics, and accessories. The calming “greige” color palette reflects the essence of the river valley’s natural stone. Unexpected twists, such as glimpses of the river and the cleverly transformed hillside behind, bring the “outdoors in.” The owners softened the steep hill’s strong influence with a garden featuring the sights and sounds of water trickling over river rocks and well-tended plantings. Views through expansive windows and glass doors overlook an intimate seating area highlighted by assembled pressed tin panels, making the kitchen all the more enticing. Owners: Marietta Ries and Peter Boettcher.



803 Oella Avenue, Oella 21043

The Oella Methodist Episcopal Congregation paid approximately
$3,000, a hefty sum a century ago, for the construction of a 250-seat church on land provided by the mill owner. Benjamin D. Price of Philadelphia designed the wooden church with Queen Anne style details such as decorative shingles in the gable ends. A bell was secured for the tower in 1920 and a Sunday school wing added in the 1940s that served the community well until the mid-1960s. Much of the religious and social life of the community centered upon this church. When the congregation relocated to a larger sanctuary nearby, the church reverted to mill owner W.J. Dickey & Sons, which used it as a sewing room for its textile operations until the mill closed in 1972. The structure subsequently served various uses until its award-winning rehabilitation in 1995 by the Oella Company. A new steeple was built and the essential elements of the sanctuary were maintained when the interior was converted into office space and an interior design studio. Pine floors, wainscoting, exterior German lap siding, and large windows were among the many features saved and restored. Today, numerous photographs and memorabilia depicting Oella’s history adorn the walls along the first floor and lower level conference room for all to enjoy. Owner: The Oella Company.
Photo Courtesy of Sohr Photography



734 Hollow Road, Oella 21043

Perched atop a uniquely terraced Historic Oella landscape, this tri-level cottage was fully renovated in 2005. The c.1890 stone home is believed to have been built as a mill manager’s residence. Street-level stone retaining walls incorporated massive local granite boulders. It’s interesting to observe these walls sank several feet over the past century, possibly due to erosion and natural springs. Ivy planted ten years ago obscures the 1950s brick topping which extended the sunken front wall up to grade. Stacked-stone walls surround the extensive front and back gardens. Planted by the current owner, terraced and sloped gardens of flowering perennials, roses, azaleas, hydrangeas, hibiscus, crape myrtles, butterfly bushes, and hostas take advantage of this garden’s excellent soil. A charmingly gnarled redbud frames the cozy garden stepping stone path. Inside, exposed stone walls and wood lintels have replaced plaster which once adhered to adz marks and splayed windows to bring in natural light. Owner: Dave Valente.


Anne Arundel County  |  Carroll County  |  Baltimore County/Oella

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