Please check our main Recreation & Parks webpage for all updates. 

As we continue to keep our community centers and facilities closed with public safety in mind, we are bringing some of our favorite classes to your household as online programs! Please visit our webpage.

Please also enjoy free videos and print outs! Our page grows daily! We post each new activity on our social media site (HoCoRec) and then archive it on our webpage.

Decisions on in-person summer camps will continue to be made throughout the summer two weeks prior to a camp's starting date.

Thomas Isaac Log Cabin is closed until further notice.

The Ellicott City Colored School, Restored, the Patapsco Female Institute, and the Firehouse Museum are now CLOSED for the season. We look forward to seeing you in the Spring! 


For rental inquiries or photography requests at the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park, please call 410-313-0424. For the B&O Ellicott City Station Museum, please call 410-313-2922. 

Baltimore & Ohio Ellicott City Station Museum

3711 Maryland Avenue, Ellicott City, MD 21043

Reopening July 8, 2020
Hours: Wednesday-Thursday: 10am-3pm, Friday-Sunday: 10am-5pm 
The Museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Free admission
Information & Rentals: 410-313-1945

The Ellicott City Station is the oldest surviving railroad depot in America, and one of the oldest in the world. When built in 1831, it was the terminus of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s first 13-miles that ran from Baltimore to Ellicott’s Mills, Maryland. The Railroad was named for its point of origin, Baltimore, and its intended destination, the Ohio River.

While passenger service was offered from the start, the depot was originally built to handle freight. Passengers boarded at the Railroad Hotel across the street until the station was remodeled in 1857 to be a passenger terminus.

Even before the station opened, Ellicott City is the site of many firsts including the B&O’s inaugural trip from Baltimore to Ellicott's Mills that took place on May 22, 1830, using horse-drawn rail cars. Regular passenger service began on May 24. The B&O demonstrated its first steam locomotive, known as the Tom Thumb, at Ellicott's Mills in 1830. In the first year of operation, 80,000 passengers rode the train from Baltimore to Ellicott’s Mills. Passenger service ceased at the station in 1949 and freight and express service continued until 1972. The station closed for good following Hurricane Agnes in 1972 and was saved by Historic Ellicott City, Inc., a group of local preservationists that opened the site as a museum. Today, the building is owned by Howard County and managed by their Heritage Program through the Recreation and Parks Department.

Additional Information


Belmont Manor & Historic Park

6555 Belmont Woods Drive, Elkridge, MD 21075
Hours: By permit only
Information & Rentals: 410-313-0200 

Belmont now hosts an array of events. These include weddings, rehearsals dinners, business meetings, holiday parties, anniversary parties, retirement parties, quinceaneras, bat/bar mitzvahs, retreats and bridal showers. Belmont also offers a variety of programs open to the public such as Ghost Tours, Movie Nights, Afternoon Teas and our Open Houses. Create your perfect event or take advantage of our many recreational programs. Belmont Manor and Historic Park awaits you.

For more information click here.

The Ellicott City Colored School, Restored

8683 Frederick Road, Ellicott City, Maryland

Curently closed

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

Opened in 1880, 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. In 1950, after 14 years of parents petitioning the school board, a well was dug and a water pump installed outside of the building. 

The Ellicott City Colored School closed its doors in 1953. The next school year, students attended the newly constructed Fells Lane Elementary School, which operated until the end of school segregation in 1965.

The school house went largely unused except as storage for Roger Carter's Bus Service. By 1989 the building was neglected and overgrown with vines and branches, sitting largely forgotten and hidden on the hillside. A woman named Beulah "Meach" Buckner was searching for African American graves for a project with the Central Maryland Chapter Afro-American Historical and Geneaological Society when she stumbled across the ruins of the school. After researching the building, she strongly felt the site needed to be restored and hosted various fund raisers and campaigned for its restoration. In 1995, the Department of Recreation and Parks purchased the property and began the preservation process.  

The restored building was dedicated as a museum in 2002 and currently is furnished to represent an early 1900s rural classroom. Exhibits about other segregated schools in Howard County and other exhibits highlighting the history of local African Americans can be seen.

The Firehouse Museum

3829 Main Street, Ellicott City, MD 21043

Starting Saturday, July 11​
Tours are available from 1-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays through December.  

Saturday & Sunday, 1-4pm

Located in the heart of the historic district, 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 and horse-drawn fire equipment. It operated until 1924, when the firehouse relocated to 8320 Main Street, and moved again in 1937 to the building known today as the Wine Bin. In 1995, the station moved to its current location on Route 103.

The building served as municipal office and a meeting hall from 1906-1935 and later as a reading room for the Howard County Library. With decline in use, the library was closed November 15, 1988.

The exterior has since been restored to its original design, and the interior refurbished. This was accomplished through the cooperative efforts of former County Executive Elizabeth Bobo, Howard County Employment and Training Center, and the Home Builders Association of Maryland. The site was dedicated as a museum in 1991. 

Original Courthouse of the Howard District

8334 Main Street, Ellicott City, MD 21043

Curently closed

This was Howard County's first courthouse, from 1840-1842. At the time, Howard was not a separate county but instead a district within Anne Arundel County. Two sessions were held per year- one in the spring and one in the fall. The building dates to approximately 1820s and was at owned by the Ellicott family, who leased the building as a court house while the current Circuit Court was being constructed. When that court house opened in 1843, this building returned to use as a residential dwelling.

In 2015, the site was recognized on the National Park Service's Network to Freedom for the cases heard involving anti-slavery sentiments and actions.

During the May 27, 2018 flash flood that occurred on Main Street, this building was lost. Remanants of the Network to Freedom exhibit are now housed at the B&O Ellicott City Station Museum. There are no current plans to rebuild. 


Patapsco Female Institute

3655 Church Road, Ellicott City, Maryland
Hours: By permit only
Information & Rentals: 410-313-0421

The Patapsco Female Institute is open for history tours on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4pm, from May through November. Tours are weather permitting  For the most updated information please call the program status line at 410-313-0421.

Select year-round availability options exist for school groups and private tours.

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, and mathematics in a time where it was believed that women could not learn such subjects.

Since the school’s closure circa 1891, the site lived other lives as a summer resort hotel, a private residence, The Hilltop Theatre, (Maryland's first summer stock theater), and a nursing home first known as the Brennan Convalescent Home, and later Highland Manor. A long period of vacancy with an absentee owner led to the building's gradual deterioration. The Friends of the Patpasco Female Institute formed in 1965 as a grassroots organization to save the site from further decay. Thanks to their efforts and partnership with Howard County, the ruins of this grand example of Greek-revival architecture were stabilized and restored in 1995.

Explore 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.

Additional Information 

Thomas Isaac Log Cabin

Parking Lot F
Ellicott City, MD 21043

When the site reopens, tours will be available on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4pm through December. School groups and private tours available year-round, weather permitting.

Constructed around 1780 on nearby Merryman Street, 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 remained in the Isaac family until 1933. John Henry Stanton aquired the property and later willed it to his widow, Fannie Jackson Stanton, in 1963. By the 1970s, the building was vacant and boarded up. 

In the 1980s, the cabin was dismantled and rebuilt where it stood until the summer of 2018. After the May 27 flash flood, the immediate area surrounding the building was no longer an ideal or safe location. The cabin was once again moved. It is temporarily closed and stored in Parking Lot F with plans for a permanent relocation on the Barnard Fort House property. 

The cabin’s small size and spare interior reflect the style of most homes from the end of the 18th century, lending visitors a sense of Howard County’s colonial past.

Waverly Mansion

2300 Waverly Mansion Drive, Marriottsville, MD 21104
Hours: By permit only
Information & Rentals: 410-313-0424

Enjoy this restored mansion, furnished with period antiques. It is open for special programs and for tours by appointment. It is also a popular place for weddings, parties and meetings. This property is associated with many of the “founding families” of Maryland and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nathan Dorsey, son of Colonel John Dorsey, built the main section of the mansion between 1756 and 1764. The property was later sold to Revolutionary War hero, Colonel John Eager Howard, Governor of Maryland from 1788 to 1790. Colonel Howard gave the house and land to his son, George, who later also served as Governor (1831-33). George Howard and his wife, Prudence, a member of the Ridgeley family, named their estate after the popular Sir Walter Scott novel, Waverley.

Wedding and Birthday Party Rentals

Weddings may resume July 16 at our facilities with restrictions

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.  

For information about rentals at Belmont, please click here.


We have several historic locations available for private event rental.  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 consultation appointment for either the Patapsco Female Institute or Waverly Mansion, please contact Gillian Gonder at 410-313-0424 or

For the B&O Ellicott City Station Museum rental information, please contact Jake Feirson at 410-313-2922 or 



Photos by K. Rainier Photography

Special Events

Special Events Coming Soon!

Field Trips

Field Trips with the Howard County Heritage Program

The Living History and Heritage Program provides archaeology, history and historic preservation-themed field trips at the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park (PFI), the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin, the Firehouse Museum and the Baltimore & Ohio Ellicott City Station Museum.

Third Grade Field Trips

Field trips are optimized for the third grade local history unit in the Howard County Public School System, but all of our programs are adaptable for your grade and age-appropriateness.

Old Ellicott City  Tour:  Visit some of Old Ellicott City's most historic sites!  Groups will rotate through three stations: one at the Patapsco Female Insittute where students will get a tour and participate in a hands-on activity using real PFI artifacts; a walking tour of Main Street with a trip to the Firehouse Museum and a program on the geography of Ellicott City in 1772; a tour of the B&O Ellioctt City Station Museum.  These field trips are available on Tuesdays-Thursdays. Please contact Emily Mosher for pricing and more information: 410-313-0419 or


Customizable and shorter field trip options are available for private schools and smaller groups, please call for availability, pricing and details.


Classroom Visits

The Living History and Heritage Program is bringing our field trips to your classroom! 

We have optimized our popular on-site field trip for the classroom!  Heritage Program Staff will visit your classroom and take students on a tour of Ellicott City with hands-on activities. Handle artifacts from the Patapsco Female Institute and learn about life during the Victorian era, and take a virtual tour of Main Street to the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin, the Firehouse Museum, and the B&O Ellicott City Station Museum!  Please contact Emily Mosher at for more information and for pricing.


Site Tours


B&O Ellicott City Station Museum: Wednesdays- Thursdays: 10am-3pm; Fridays-Sundays: 10am-5pm; Mondays and Tuesdays: Closed

Firehouse Museum: Saturdays and Sundays, 1pm - 4pm through December 2019.
Ellicott City Colored School, Restored: Saturdays and Sundays, 1pm - 4 pm through December 2019.
Thomas Isaac Log Cabin: Indefinitely Closed
Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park: Most Saturdays and Sundays, 1pm-4pm through November 2019.

Original Courthouse of the Howard District: Closed

For more information about tours of our Main Street Ellicott City sites, contact the Living History and Heritage Program line at 410-313-0421

Summer Camps

For questions regarding camps, please contact Kelly Palich at or 410-313-0423. 


Little History Explorers

In Date Order

Enchanted Engineering

Follow along on a S.T.E.A.M. adventure with your favorite Victorian-era fairytale characters! Step into the land of make believe and help our fairytale friends solve engineering challenges for a happily ever after. Each day we will focus on a different story and participate in games, songs, and crafts.

3-5 yrs            Waverly Mansion    Days: 5

RP9983.802             Jun 29-Jul 3              9am-12pm     $130.00


Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

Discover the history of transportation at the B&O Ellicott City Station Museum!  We’ll look at trains, planes, automobiles, and more with stories, games and crafts.

3-5 yrs            B&O Ellicott City Station Museum           Days: 5

RP9983.803             Aug 24-28                 9am-12pm     $130.00


Native Americans

Explore Native American culture and history through storytelling, music, games, and hands-on crafts! Each day we will focus on a different Native American tribe from across the United States to learn about their history and heritage.   

3-5 yrs            Patapsco Female Institute             Days: 5

RP9983.801              Jun 15-19                   9am-12pm     $130.00


Time Traveling Kids

In Alphabetical Order

Archaeology Adventures

Uncover the secrets of Howard County's 12,000-year history through archaeology! Learn the five steps of archaeology through investigation, research, field work and interpretation uncovering the past at a real site. 

10-13 yrs        Patapsco Female Institute             Days: 5

RP9983.813              Jul 13-17                    9am-3pm       $275

RP9983.814              Jul 13-17                    3-5pm             $50     Aftercare

RP9983.825              Jun 29-Jul 3              9am-3pm       $275

RP9983.826              Jun 29-Jul 3              3-5pm             $50     Aftercare  


Ellicott City Adventure

Travel back in time throughout Old Ellicott City to investigate history through hands-on fun! Learn survival skills of the Native Americans, think like an early colonist as you try to settle your community along the Patapsco, investigate transportation and communication at the B&O Railroad and solve a history mystery through archaeology!

6-10 yrs          Patapsco Female Institute             Days: 5

RP9983.811               Jun 22-26      9am-3pm       $275

RP9983.812              Jun 22-26      3-5pm             $50     Aftercare

RP9983.827              Jul 20-24       9am-3pm       $275

RP9983.828             Jul 20-24       3-5pm             $50     Aftercare


Frontier Survival Skills

Experience life as the early colonists did in the Frontier of Howard County in the 18th Century. Learn historical trades that helped the new colony thrive! 

10-13 yrs        Waverly Mansion    Days: 5

RP9983.815              Jul 27-31        9am-3pm       $300

RP9983.816              Jul 27-31        3pm-5pm       $50     Aftercare


Native American Survival Skills

Experience life as the Native Americans through the lens of Experimental Archaeology!  Learn the art of stone tool making, shelter building, pottery making, and more. 

10-13 yrs        Living Farm Heritage Museum             Days: 5

RP9983.817              Aug 10-14      9am-3pm       $300

RP9983.818              Aug 10-14      3-5pm             $50     Aftercare


Victorian Dreams

Did you ever wonder what it was like to grow up in the 1800s?  Spend the week in a 19th century mansion and dress in time period costumes as you make authentic crafts, play games of the era and learn Victorian dancing. End the camp with a Tea Party! 

6-9 yrs            Waverly Mansion                Days: 5

RP9983.819              Aug 10-14      9am-3pm       $275  

RP9983.820             Aug 10-14      3-5pm             $50     Aftercare

RP9983.829              Jul 6-10          9am-3pm       $275  

RP9983.830             Jul 6-10          3-5pm             $50     Aftercare


Archaeology Field School

Participate in real archaeological research alongside professional archaeologists. Learn how to conduct field and laboratory work, identify and interpret artifacts, and participate in experimental archaeology. This is an intensive program - be prepared to be outside all day, lift buckets, dig and get dirty! 

14-18 yrs         Living Farm Heritage Museum             Days: 5

RP9983.821              Jul 20-24       9am-3pm       $300

RP9983.822              Jul 20-24       3-5pm             $50     Aftercare

RP9983.823              Aug 17-21     9am-3pm       $300

RP9983.824              Aug 17-21       3-5pm             $50     Aftercare


Shakespeare Kids

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 short Friday afternoon performance for friends and family. Info: Ron Heneghan at 410-244-8570 X113 or or Emily Mosher, 410-313-0419 or

6-9 yrs                        Patapsco Female Institute Days: 5

RP9980.801              Jun 22-26                  $265

RP9980.802             Jun 29-Jul 3              $265


10-13 yrs        Patapsco Female Institute Days: 5

RP9980.803             Jul 6-10                      $265

RP9980.804             Jul 13-17                    $265


Archaeology in Your Community

Archaeology in your Community

Join the Upper Patuxent Archaeology Group for their monthly meeting.  Meets second Monday of the month.  Ages 7+.  Info: Kelly Palich, 410-313-0423 or


The Archaeology of Howard County

Waverly Mansion

Saturday, February 8th    2-3:30 PM           Free       All Ages

Learn about the archaeological resources in your community!  Examine artifacts recovered from historic County Sites and learn about opportunities to volunteer with Howard County’s Archaeology Program.



The Archaeology of the Patapsco Female Institute

B&O Ellicott City Station Museum

Sunday, March 8th            2-2:30 PM&nbs