Heritage sites close for the season on Dec 19th, and will reopen in Spring 2022.
Tours are available from 1-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays from May through December 19.
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 lacked 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. When researcher Beulah “Meach” Buckner was searching for African American graves for a project with the Central Maryland Chapter Afro-American Historical and Geneaological Society, she came across the ruins of the school. After researching the building, she strongly felt the site needed to be restored and successfully 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 highlighting other segregated schools in Howard County and the history of local African Americans can be seen.