Ellicott City Historic Courthouse

Howard County recently vacated the historic Circuit Courthouse located at 8360 Court Avenue in Ellicott City, MD, and relocated to a newly developed state-of-the-art Circuit Courthouse. This relocation creates a unique reuse opportunity of the County-owned historic courthouse and adjacent properties. 

Questions? Contact us at [email protected] .

Aerial Courthouse

Community Input Meeting July 20, 2021


Howard County hosted a public meeting to discuss the potential redevelopment of the Historic Ellicott City Courthouse and associated properties on Tuesday, July 20th, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. The County and its consultant team discussed potential concepts for the courthouse redevelopment and is seeking additional public feedback on those concepts.

See the meeting presentation here.

Please contact [email protected] with questions or comments? 


Request for Information


To begin the process for reusing and repurposing the courthouse and its adjacent properties, the county has issued a Request for Information (RFI).  

The County’s objectives for the RFI include the following:

  • Identify market interest and opportunities in the reuse of the Properties,
  • Inform the rezoning process underway by the County for the Properties,
  • Explore ownership structures (e.g., retention, sale, ground lease, etc.),
  • Determine if the Properties shall be addressed collectively or individually

This RFI has been issued solely for information and planning purposes.  The County is not at this time seeking proposals and will not accept unsolicited proposals. 



    Zoning Map Amendment


    To encourage a range of possible reuse opportunities for these properties, the County is pursuing a zoning map amendment to change the zoning for the four county-owned properties from Historic Office (HO) to Historic Commercial (HC).  This proposed zoning map amendment will require Zoning Board approval. 

    Opportunities for public input include the pre-submission meeting on March 31, 2021 as well as the Planning Board on May 6, 2021 and the Zoning Board hearing on October 13, 2021.

    Please note that the Zoning Map Amendment process is separate and distinct from the Request for Information process. 

    Planning Board Meeting

    This meeting was held on Thursday May 6, 2021 at 7:00pm.

    The Planning Board unanimously recommended approval of the zoning map amendment at this meeting. Additional information can be found on the Planning Board Webpage.

    Pre-submission Community Meeting

    This meeting was held on Wednesday, March 31st, 2021 at 6:00pm.

    Thanks to all who attended the pre-submission meeting.

    Project Mailing List

    DPZ/DPW will maintain a list of all meeting attendees, meeting registrants and anyone unable to attend the meeting who request to be added to the list.  If you did not register for the meeting but would like to receive future notices, please email Peter Conrad at [email protected] to be added to the electronic mailing list.

    Additional Materials: 


    Ellicott City Watershed Master Plan


    The Ellicott City Watershed Master Plan (ECWMP) was initiated in summer of 2017 to respond to the 2016 floods and was adopted by the County Council on Dec 7, 2020. The plan is the culmination of a multi-year public outreach process and features conceptual illustrations that can serve as inspiration should specific opportunities arise over time.  

    The plan concept for the courthouse complex calls for a mixed-use development at the courthouse site with an emphasis on pedestrian and open space connections. The plan recommended that potential reuse of the courthouse property should emphasize uses that are complementary—rather than competitive—to the retail mix that currently exists along Main Street.

    Link to the Ellicott City Watershed Master Plan



    Courthouse and Jail History


    After the creation of Howard District of Anne Arundel County in 1840, which was a prelude to the  formation of Howard County, it was necessary for the new district to establish its own courthouse,  jail, and almshouse in what would become the county seat, Ellicott's Mills. The original section of the Courthouse was designed and built in 1840-43 by Charles Timanus, who also designed the Patapsco Female Institute.

    Historic Courthouse Postcard

    A newer addition was added to the Courthouse in the 1950's but it was placed to the rear of the existing structure so that the original remains unchanged from the front and side views. The Courthouse is a Classic Revival structure, built of locally quarried granite and is significant not only architecturally but because it has been a repository for Howard County Government almost since the government began. "Oak Lawn" (see below) is now attached to the Howard County Courthouse by a modern addition. Oak Lawn was originally a residence, but after purchase by the County in 1937 the house became the offices of the Board of Education.

    Courthouse Dome

    The Old Jail was completed and accepted in December 1851, and it survives as the rear, stone wing of the existing jail. Apparently, the need for additional accommodations at the jail prompted the Commissioners to request proposals again in 1878. The building continued in use as a jail until the early 1980s, when a new detention center was opened in Jessup, and the jail continued to be used by the Sheriff’s Department until recently.

    The Courthouse and the Jail House are listed in the both the Howard County Historic Sites Inventory and the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties and are located in a local historic district and a National Register District.

    Howard County Courthouse Historic Inventory Form

    Howard County Jail Historic Inventory Form

    Oak Lawn Inventory Form (Hayden House, former Board of Ed. Building)

    Ellicott City Historic District Inventory Form

    Ellicott City National Register District


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