The mural on the corner of Old Columbia Pike and Main Street in Ellicott City was probably an attempt to bring more shoppers to the stores in Tongue Row, according to one expert in local history.
Now, W. Edward Lilley said it’s time at least for another touch up, and possibly a complete overhaul of the painting.
Lilley is the president of the board of directors of the Ellicott City Restoration Foundation. The group has submitted a pre-application request to the Howard County Historic District Commission, seeking its advice and approval as it moves toward developing a plan to revive the mural.
“Minimally we were going to just redo what was there,” Lilley said. “It’s looking dull and dingy."
But the foundation also has another idea: “We want to have a competition with the schools in Howard County,” Lilley said.
He envisions high school students submitting drawings and perhaps working with the Howard County Arts Council to determine a winner. The winning drawing would replace the current mural, a picture of buildings with text “More Shops” and an arrow pointing up Old Columbia Pike.
“This is all in the early stages,” Lilley said. He would like, first, to talk to the original painter, if he can find him or her.
“We don’t want to offend them,” he said, “there’s nothing wrong with the mural,” but changing it brings an opportunity to spotlight downtown Ellicott City.
“The theory is we want to change the mural every 5 years or so. It’s a way of drawing attention to the area, getting schools involved, and we'd have an event scheduled around the unveiling.”
As it stands, Lilley said the Historic Commission seems to like the idea.
The next step is for the Foundation to sit down with the Arts Council and a representative from Howard County Public schools to come up with a plan that can be submitted to the commission.