The Thomas Isaac Log Cabin, Ellicott City Colored School, Restored, and Ellicott City Firehouse Museum are open to the public from 1pm - 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park is open to the public for tours from 1pm - 4pm on Sundays. 


Historic Sites

The Heritage Program aims to benefit a diverse audience through utilizing our historic resources in various ways by staying current with technology and heritage tourism trends, by providing historically accurate information to our visitors, and maintaining a sense of place through the built environment and the intangible heritage associated with the region.

Howard County Recreation and Parks Heritage staff offers a variety of educational programs, special events, tours of its museums and parks and many opportunities for people of all ages throughout the county.

PFI anniversary badminton

NEW! Introduction to Blacksmithing

16+ years/two days, dates below/ $160
Tools, nails, and everyday items—blacksmiths made the objects that built early American communities. Explore the art of shaping metal using heat and force. Over the course of this two day, 12-hour introductory blacksmithing workshop, watch demonstrations by one of the few local master blacksmiths and make your own iron-forged tool using traditional methods.  Strike while the iron is hot; you won’t want to miss this chance to forge your own piece of history! Bring a reusable water bottle, lunch and a snack. Info: Caitlin Chamberlain at or 410-313-0420

9989.302     June 10-11     Howard County Living Heritage Farm Museum     9am-3pm     Sa Sun
9989.303     Aug 26-27      Howard County Living Heritage Farm Museum     9am-3pm     Sa Sun

NEW! A Stitch in Time: Wearable Art Workshop
9-12 years/5 days, starting July 10/ $65
Have you ever wondered what it was like to have to sew all your own clothing? In this five-day workshop you can do just that while learning about traditional hand-sewing as it has come down through the ages. There was a time when you could not just go to the store and people had to sew and design their own clothes. Practice threading a needle along with some practical sewing stitches, and even how to sew on a button!  After gaining experience on how to hand stitch we'll make a pin cushion for your sewing kit and have fun sewing some fashionable items for you to take home and wear anytime! $25.00 materials fee due on day of class. Bring a nut free snack and beverage each day. 

RP9089.301     Jul 10-14     Ellicott City Colored School, Restored     9 am-12 pm     M-F

Field Trips with the Howard County Heritage Program

The Heritage Program provides archaeology and historic preservation-themed field trips at the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park (PFIHP), and downtown Ellicott City walking tours.

Field trips are optimized for second through fifth graders and last approximately 2.5 hours. Patapsco Female Institute field trips include an introduction to archaeological principles, an opportunity to examine real 19th century artifacts from the historic site, and three, rotating, 30-min sessions, one of which is a tour of the stabilized ruins. Main Street Ellicott City walking tours include visits to the B&O Railroad station, the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin, and the Ellicott City Firehouse Museum. 

PFIHP field trips are offered Tuesday-Thursday in the Spring and Fall. There is a $4.00 participant fee. 

Main Street Walking Tour field trips are offered Monday-Friday in the Spring and Fall. There is a $16.00 participant fee. 

Class Visits

Starting in spring 2017, the Heritage Program is bringing our field trips to your classroom! 

Choose from two 1-hour hands-on history activities, led by one of our educators: 

Archaeology Lab: How has daily life changed over time for Marylanders?We can learn a lot from what was left in the ground! Become a junior archaeologist and learn how artifacts are analyzed after they've been excavated. 

Fun from the Past: What did people do for fun before electricity and internet? Try your hand at two popular Early American games, and learn a party dance from the 1800s. See how your pastimes have changed (or stayed the same) over three centuries. 

In-class programs are offered Monday-Friday, for a special introductory rate of $1 per participant. 

Please call or e-mail for more information or to schedule a field trip for your class or homeschool group. E-mail is suggested for fastest reservation.

Kiri Houpt

The Firehouse Museum, The Patapsco Female Institute, the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin, and the Ellicott City Colored School, Restored will resume normal open hours in May 2017. 

Firehouse Museum: Saturdays and Sundays, 1pm - 4pm
Ellicott City Colored School, Restored: Saturdays and Sundays, 1pm - 4 pm
Thomas Isaac Log Cabin: Saturdays and Sundays, 1pm - 4pm 
Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park: Sundays, 1pm - 4pm

For more information about tours of our Main Street Ellicott City sites, contact Kiri Houpt at 410-313-0423 or


 2017 Summer Camps

Archaeology and History in Action!

8-12 yrs/ 5 days starting June 19/ $265

Get ready to take an exciting and educational journey into a hidden side of Ellicott City, uncovering secrets of Howard County’s 12,000 year history! Practice archaeological survey methods, digging, sifting and mapping of artifacts at a 19th century girl’s school. Gather clues from 100-year-old photographs, letters, and journals. Play games and try your hand at arts and crafts from Howard County’s colonial past. Visits to other local historic sites will enrich your experience by showing the many ways we can piece together the stories of the past. Bring a reusable water bottle, snack and a lunch each day (no nut products). For more info: Caitlin Chamberlain at 410-313-0420 or


RP9983.401 June 19 Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park 9 am - 2 pm M-F 


 NEW! Survival Skills from the Past
8-12 yrs/ 5 days starting June 26/ $265

Roll up your sleeves and travel through time! Explore the vast grounds of the Farm Heritage Museum in West Friendship, MD as you practice shelter building and making stone tools like Howard County’s first inhabitants did, cook over a campfire, and try your hand at some of the everyday 17th-century crafts and survival skills that have since been lost to time. On Thursday night, spend the night under the stars in a colonial-style encampment with your camp counselors and a professional Colonial era reenactor for an unforgettable night of living history! Bring a reusable water bottle and a nut-free snack and lunch each day. Info: Caitlin Chamberlain at 410-313-0420 or


RP9981.401 Howard County Farm Heritage Museum 9 am - 2 pm M-F

Victorian Dreams Living History Half Day Camp

8-12 yrs / 5 days starting Aug 7 / $165

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be a young girl in the 1800s? Spend the week in Waverly Mansion, home of Howard County’s founding families, dress up in camp-adapted pinafores, learn the basics of needlepoint and calligraphy, play games of the time period and learn Victorian dancing. Enjoy your choice of a selection of caffeine free and herbal teas each morning as you learn social graces of this captivating era in history. Bring a nut free snack and a reusable water bottle each day. Info: Caitlin Chamberlain at 410-313-0420 or


RP9982.401 Waverly Mansion 9am-noon M-F


Shakespeare Kids with Chesapeake Shakespeare Co.

Grades, start dates below / $250

Have a blast this summer learning Shakespeare with members of the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company! Acting Shakespeare is made fun and easy and it’s done just as they did it in Shakespeare’s day… in the great outdoors. Each section ends with a Friday afternoon performance for friends and family.  Bring a reusable water bottle, snack and lunch each day (no peanut products). Fee covers T-shirt and additional materials. Info: Ron Heneghan at 410-244-8570 X113 or or Caitlin Chamberlain 410-313-0420 or

Grades 1-4

RP9980.401 5 classes, June 26-30 Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park 9am - 3pm M-F  

Grades 5-8

RP9980.402 4 classes, Jul 3-7 (no class Jul 4)  Patapsco Female Institute 9am - 3pm M, W-F 
RP9980.403 5 classes, Jul 10-14 Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park 9am - 3 pm M-F

RP9980.405 9 classes Jul 3 - 14 Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park 9am - 3pm M-F

Grades 9-12
RP9980.404 5 classes Jul 17 - 21 Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park 9am - 3pm M-F

Homeschool Classes

NEW! Introduction to Flintknapping
9-13 yrs/ dates below/ $26
The art of making stone tools, or flintknapping, is a skill that traces back millions of years to the first humans. Stone arrowheads, spear points, knives, awls, and axes were all essential to the survival of past people. Learn how these people shaped their most abundant resource to make life easier and apply basic flintknapping techniques to make your own stone tool. Bring a nut free snack and reusable water bottle. Info: Caitlin Chamberlain at or 410-313-0420

9986.304 Aug   16 Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park 10am - 12pm W 




The Patapsco Female Institute offers a truly unique atmosphere for couples looking to put a personal touch on their wedding celebration. The elegance of Greek Revival Architecture meets the breezy lightness of an outdoor event in the stabilized ruins to provide endless creative versatility.  


We have several historic locations available for private event rental. And, new in 2017, we offer living history birthday party packages with educator-led activities for children ages 6+. 

For more information about rental packages and regulations or to schedule a walk-through, contact Caitlin Chamberlain at or 410-313-0420.

Photos by K. Rainier Photography


The Patapsco Female Institute 

3655 Church Road
Ellicott City, Maryland

Perched at Ellicott City’s highest point, the Patapsco Female Institute offered a revolutionary curriculum to young women from 1837-1891. The school earned a national reputation for its inclusion of botany, chemistry, languages, literature, math, and music in an effort to mold elegant young ladies into engaged, active citizens. Since the school’s closure at the end of the 19th century, the site has hosted a hotel, a Summer Theater, and, briefly, a nursing home. The ruins of this grand example of Greek-revival architecture were stabilized and restored in 1993. Explore a slice of the Victorian Era in Howard county by joining us for a tour, booking a wedding or special event, or attending an educational program at this breezy, hilltop historic park.

 The Patapsco Female Institute is open for tours Sundays from 1pm - 4pm.   

Additional Information 

The Thomas Isaac Log Cabin

8394 Main St.
Ellicott City, MD 21043

As Main Street’s oldest county Heritage site—constructed around 1780—the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin commemorates the early stages of European development in the Patapsco River Valley. The site’s namesake, Thomas Isaac, purchased the structure in 1858 to expand his land holdings. The site served as important resource for city’s African American community in the 1870s, preceding the still-active St. Luke A.M.E. church as a meeting place. The cabin’s small size and spare interior reflect the style of most homes from the end of the 18th century, lending visitors to the site a sense of Howard County’s colonial past.

Tours are available on Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm - 4pm May through December. 

The Ellicott City Firehouse Museum

3829 Main Street
Ellicott City, MD 21043

Located in the heart of downtown, the Firehouse Museum explores the unique challenges of fighting fire in late 19th and early 20th century Ellicott City.  The city’s topography and architecture—steep, sloping streets tightly lined with adjoined wooden buildings—provided prime conditions for the spread of fire while inhibiting the transport of water. In 1889 a group of volunteers constructed the firehouse at a cost of $500 dollars. Conveniently situated on a small, triangular lot, the original building was simply designed to house the hand-drawn—later horse-drawn—fire equipment. It operated until 1924, and served as municipal office and a meeting hall from 1906-1935.

Tours are available from 1pm - 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays from May through December. 

The Ellicott City Colored School, Restored

8683 Frederick Road
Ellicott City, Maryland

Opened in 1880, eleven years before Patapsco Female Institute’s closure, the Ellicott City Colored School fulfilled an 1879 Maryland State law requiring that counties provide educational facilities for African American children. The school—the first to be built with county funds—operated until 1953, before the landmark Supreme Court Case Brown vs. Board of Education called for the integration of public schools. In stark contrast with the lavish Patapsco Female Institute, the one-room structure was primitive; it never had running water, electricity, or central heating.  The building serves now serves as a genealogical resource center and a museum highlighting the history of African Americans in Howard County.   

Tours are available from 1pm - 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays from May through December. 

Howard County's First Courthouse

8334 Main Street
Ellicott City, MD 21043

This was Howard County's first courthouse, from 1840 - 1843. 

The site is open every day from 11 am - 4 pm. 


Featured Artifact

The Heritage Program is steward to a collection of more than 80,000 artifacts. We’d like to feature one of staff member Jake Feirson’s favorites. This china luncheon plate was recovered from the Patapsco Female Institute during the excavations of the 1970s. 

This plate was manufactured by Dutch potter Petrus Regout & Company between 1879 and 1899, so we know it is either a school-era or hotel-era PFIHP artifact. The pattern features oriental themes and a mountainous landscape. Chinese porcelain came to Europe in the early 14th century, and the pieces were prized as objects of luxury. By the 16th century, Portugal had established trade routes to the Far East, and the porcelains accompanied shipments of tea, silks, and ivory. For two centuries, trade increased, and Chinese artists began creating pieces specifically for export to Western consumers. As porcelain factories began to appear in Europe and trade began to decline, in the 18th century, Chinese manufacturers found a new market in the newly independent USA. Oriental ceramics, reminiscent of the colonial period, held a certain nostalgia for Victorian-era Americans, and were so popular that many European manufacturers, like Petrus Regout & Company, produced and exported oriental-inspired imitations. The popularity of these pieces in 19th century America reflect the consumers’ interest in their young country’s past.