Historic Ellicott City manor house goes from old to new

Walls have been painted and floors sanded. Curtains have been hung and furniture put in place. After months of renovations, the transformation is complete.

On Sept. 24, Historic Ellicott City Inc. opened the doors to its 30th decorator show house. Avoca, an 1800s manor house in Ellicott City, saw its three floors of rooms transformed into the designers’ visions that only months ago were ideas on paper.

While Avoca needed little major work – only one room, a bathroom, was completely gutted – the amount of work the decorators did to create their visions was impressive and recognized by many thanks to a “dirty work party” Historic Ellicott City Inc. held for the first time in July. During that event, visitors were allowed to tour the empty rooms of Avoca before any work had been done.

“We’ve made some progress,” chuckled Joan Becker, president of HEC, days before Avoca opened. “All the dirty work is done.”

Everything received a transformation, from the manor’s grounds, where tents are set up with vendors and a small cafe, to an outbuilding that was once a smokehouse and is now a summer kitchen

Even two of the property’s trees are now recognized with plaques after it was discovered, and formally recognized, that the two trees were record-breakers, Becker said. A bald cypress tree on the property is the oldest in the state, while a Kentucky coffee tree is the oldest of its kind in the country.

“They have been registered with Big Tree Registry,” Becker said. “Before we knew it, we had all these people out here for the trees.”

The Kentucky coffee tree is visible from the manor’s front porch, where white wicker furniture now sits and can provide a view.

“I wanted people to feel welcome to this home,” said Veronica Christensen, who decorated the front porch of the home with pumpkins, flowers and bird houses. The porch was the first project Christensen, of Junk in My Trunk in Ellicott City, had done for a decorator show house.

Read about the Avoca Show House

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