Historic Oakdale Opens as 34th Decorator Show House for Historic Ellicott City Fundraiser – Baltimore Sun

When it opens to the public on Friday, Historic Oakdale will be the 34th showroom home for decorators from Historic Ellicott City Inc..

With 24 rooms and 12 fireplaces on more than 9,500 square feet in Woodbine, Maryland Governor Edwin Warfield’s former estate is also “probably the largest home” the group has ever built, according to Connie Siegel, president of the Non-profit organization.

“I don’t know of a bigger one under one roof,” Siegel said. “We pulled every bunny out of the hat to do it.”

“That’s it,” said Wiley Purkey, vice-president of HEC. “It’s bigger and better than before.”

It’s been two years since Historic Ellicott City Inc. held its popular fundraiser, the Decorators Showcase. While it’s easy to blame the pandemic, the decision not to host a house in 2020 was made at the group’s first meeting that year, as members bemoaned the labor needed and the difficulty in finding acceptable homes.

“It’s a lot to do,” Purkey said. “Houses are usually put on the market or sold recently. People have to give up ownership four to six months.

Parking is also a concern. For the 2019 show house, a shuttle service was needed to transport guests.

“People didn’t like the shuttle,” said Historic Ellicott City treasurer Joan Becker, and its costs also ate into the group’s profits. Typically, the nonprofit tries to keep expenses — for insurance, minor repairs, programs and advertising — under $50,000. The shuttle cost $22,000, Becker said.

The show homes fetch about $70,000, Purkey said, and all funds are used by the nonprofit to “rebuild, restore and preserve” historic properties in the historic town of Ellicott. Past projects have included the restoration of the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin and the B&O Historic Railroad Museum in Ellicott City.

“It’s what we do and what we’re known for,” Siegel said. “It’s always a challenge. We looked at two other properties before this one.

Oakland ticked all the boxes, with plenty of space for parking and other fundraising amenities, including a boutique, cafe, and space for local artists to work and make sales. The owner of the property, Theodore F. Mariani, only requested that the show take place in the spring, and not in the fall, when shows usually take place.

“Each show home is different with different challenges,” Becker said. “This one is almost too big. And it goes on and on and on.”

For the first time, special events are also planned during the opening hours of the show house. Black Ankle Vineyards in Mount Airy will hold wine tastings May 20 and June 2 and a vintage car event is scheduled for May 22.

Design at Dusk events, including a private tour of the home with a presentation by a designer and refreshments, are also planned.

“It’s nice to be able to do different things,” Purkey said. “We want new ideas.”

There will also be an estate sale, Becker said, as furnishings in the house, including oriental rugs, artwork and antiques, are to go.

“They want to clean the house,” Becker said. In January, designers were able to stroll through Oakdale and select their top three pieces to decorate. Twenty-two rooms on two floors have been redone, some being themed, such as that of the library dog.

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Tuesday morning, painters were touching up the woodwork, a volunteer was busy in the gardens and work was underway around the pool. Inside, a designer was putting the finishing touches on their bedroom and the shop was still to be fitted out.

“It came together beautifully,” Siegel said. “It is a very majestic house. You probably won’t see one of this magnitude or architectural detail.

A preview night on Wednesday was near capacity and Siegel expects the show home to be successful and hopes up to 5,000 visitors will pass. Siegel thinks the house is big enough for people to spread out and stay socially distant, due to pandemic concerns. Masks are optional.

The 34th Decorator Show House of Ellicott City, Oakdale, 16449 Ed Warfield Road, Woodbine, opens May 13 at 10 a.m. It will be open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. until June 5. Ticket prices vary. Call 410-461-6908 for more information.


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Raymond I. Langston