The Walker-Chandler building housed Ellicott's Country Store, 1972. Photo from the Maryland Historical Trust.

Roland Bounds’ Legacy in Historic Ellicott City

03/26/2017
By Preservation Maryland

Preservation, and what is saved and is what is lost, is often determined by the passion and persistence of committed individuals. In Ellicott City, much is owed to Roland Bounds, a founding member of Historic Ellicott City, Inc. Read more about his legacy:

Roland Bounds, circa 1968. Photo courtesy Lissa Bounds.

This essay first appeared in The Legacy, the newsletter of the Howard County Historical Society, and it posted here with permission from the author, Janet Kusterer.

Ellicott City lost one of its staunchest supporters with the death of Roland R. Bounds on March 10, 2017. As Mary Catherine Cochran, Executive Director of the Patapsco Heritage Greenway, said. “Ellicott City is a regional gem and a national treasure due in great measure to the heroic efforts and passion of Roland Bounds. His vision and tenacity ensured that the historic essence—the heart—of Ellicott City is preserved for future generations. It’s a tremendous gift to all of us.

Roland was born on June 19, 1928 and grew up in Baltimore County. He met Enalee Elizabeth Rehling on a hayride when she was fifteen and he was seventeen. They were married for 66 years. Roland was in the Marines and later attended college on the G.I. bill. He graduated from the University Of Baltimore School of Law and later established a law office on Main Street in what was to become the historic district of Ellicott City.

His involvement in the preservation and restoration of the historic district spanned five decades. Enalee, her sister Barbara and her mother Mildred Werner opened Ellicott’s Country Store on Main Street in 1962. In 1967, Enalee and Roland bought the building, historically known as the Walker-Chandler Building, built in 1790, the oldest duplex in Howard County. In the late 1960s the Ellicott City Bicentennial Association, Inc. was formed in anticipation of the town’s 200th birthday. Roland and Enalee served on the Journal Committee.

Flood waters on Main Street in Ellicott City, 1972. Photo from the Howard County Historical Society.

No one knew that 1972 would also bring tragedy to the town in the form of Tropical Storm Agnes. The town was at a crossroads then—repair the extensive damage or walk away. Some stubborn pioneers elected to stay—Roland and Enalee among them.

Jean Hannon, who was another early supporter of the historic district, and was the person who actually drew the boundaries of it, said a few years ago, “around this time Roland came to see me. He was getting things going in town and working to create Historic Ellicott City, Inc. He wanted to combine Historic Ellicott Mills with Historic Ellicott City, Inc. We asked our members and they agreed so that is what we did.

The first and biggest job undertaken by Historic Ellicott City, Inc. and Roland was the first restoration of the Ellicott City B&O Railroad Station, the first terminus for the railroad in the United States. In 1968 the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The first phase of the restoration was completed in 1976, and the building opened as a museum on August 1 of that year.

With Roland’s continued involvement the group went on to move the George Ellicott house out of the flood plain, restore the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin and the Heritage Orientation Center, and work to preserve the character of the town.

Historic Ellicott City, Inc. President Joan Becker said, “Roland Bounds, along with his wife Enalee, as one of the founders of Historic Ellicott City, Inc., not only played a vital role in its formation but continued to play a very active role in later years as its legal counsel and on the Board of Directors. He was a strong advocate for preservation efforts in the historic district and was the backbone of our organization. His legacy will live on in many of HEC’s projects.

John Byrd, Director of Howard County’s Department of Recreation and Parks, said, “When I started with Recreation and Parks in 1993 I was assigned to be the department liaison to Ellicott City. Roland was one of the first if not the first person I met in that capacity. I was new to the county and didn’t know much about Ellicott City. He was very helpful in educating me about the efforts of the various organizations involved in preservation and the nuances and individuals associated with them. It helped me appreciate the passion and commitment that persists in this community to preserve and promote awareness for the unique heritage of Ellicott City.

Roland was also a founding member and legal counsel for the Ellicott City Restoration Foundation. Ned Rogers is a former president of the Restoration Foundation. He said, “Roland personified the core of what was precious to me about Ellicott City and its past. Dignity, substance, and a fair amount of what is called character—or being one. One could not be very long in doubt of where Roland stood in a matter, and you would be well advised to consider how much time and energy you wanted to invest in opposing him. If you had to though, it was always worth the effort for what you got in return.

In 2007 Preservation Howard County presented Roland and Enalee with the James Clark, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of their contributions and leadership over the years to the preservation of Ellicott City and Howard County’s history and heritage. Preservation Howard County President Fred Dorsey said, “Roland Bounds was a man of integrity and a staunch advocate for the history and stewardship of Ellicott City.

Charles Wagandt, President of the Oella Company, said, “A mighty oak has fallen. Roland and his wife Enalee led the way in the rebirth of Ellicott City. I recall Roland at many a meeting and visiting him in his law office, where he gave generously of his advice and counsel, whether it was for the Patapsco Heritage Committee, then part of the Ellicott City Restoration Foundation, or some other community endeavor. He was thoughtful and considerate. I greatly admired and respected him.Jon Weinstein, Howard County Councilman for the first district, said, “His reputation stood for itself and his impact on Main Street is quite visible every day.

In keeping with Roland’s lifelong commitment to preservation, his family has asked that donations be made in his name to the Historical Society’s project to restore the Ellicott 2nd Quaker School, located in the historic district.

Founded in 1958, the Howard County Historical Society is primary private repository of historical records and artifacts related to Howard County’s rich history, the Howard County Historical Society provides access to materials that aid in historical exploration, research and discovery for all ages and cultural groups.

More about Ellicott City History

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