Home National Weather Members of historically Black Ellicott City neighborhood Fells Lane gather to share stories – Baltimore Sun

Members of historically Black Ellicott City neighborhood Fells Lane gather to share stories – Baltimore Sun

by DrewLUD

Under a large white tent on Ellicott City’s Parking Lot F last weekend, members of the Fells Lane community came together to celebrate the area’s rich Black history.

The historic African American neighborhood of Fells Lane once existed on what is now Parking Lot F. More than 40 families lived in the area from Main Street to the Fells Lane Elementary School until spring 1969, when residents from Fells Lane, Mercer Street, Merryman Street, New Cut Road and Main Street moved to the newly built Hilltop housing complex on Mount Ida Drive.

Most houses on Fells Lane were demolished in the early 1970s, and the Hilltop complex was razed and replaced by Burgess Mill Station around 2014.

On Saturday and Sunday, the 2022 Fells Lane Reunion in Old Ellicott City brought together those associated with the Fells Lane community to reunite with friends and neighbors and reminisce about the community’s history.

Facilitated by EC250, a nonprofit organization formed to honor Ellicott City’s 250th anniversary in 2022, the event featured historical photo displays, a religious service, storytelling circles, local vendors and speakers. EC250 volunteers scanned photos and documents brought by attendees to perform oral histories that will become part of the archives of the Howard County Historical Society.

Speakers included the Rev. Douglas Sands of White Rock Independent Methodist Episcopal Church in Sykesville, former county executive Allan Kittleman, former state senator Jim Robey and current Howard County Executive Calvin Ball.

Ball pointed out an updated historical marker on Ellicott Mills Drive, highlighting the Fells Lane community history. The sign includes a community map from 1964.

“Markers like this are critical to preserving our town’s history and serving as a critical point in time as we continue this journey together as a community and as a people,” Ball said.

Tyrone Tyler, 68, of Irvington, who once lived on Fells Lane and at Hilltop, created the map and said it was important for residents to come together to remember the community’s history.

“The history of African American communities in Ellicott City has kind of been lost,” he said. “Most of the people that live in Ellicott City now don’t even know that we existed.”

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Wiley Purkey, 68, of Sykesville was born in a home on Fells Lane in 1953 and lived in the community until 1963. He said his most vivid memory of the community was a fire that broke out in a home on Fells Lane in 1965, killing five residents including his friend, Charles Jerome Owings.

“We were best buddies and he died in that fire,” Purkey said.

He returned to the community last weekend to reunite with friends and neighbors.

“It’s important to remember, especially as we get older, it’s important to reengage,” he said. “We’re all going a thousand different directions and some of these people I haven’t seen for 60-something years, so that’s why it’s important.”

Catherine Houston, 76, of Windsor Mill was also born and raised on Fells Lane. As a volunteer for EC250, she said she wanted to play a role in planning an event highlighting Fells Lane history.

Houston said she hopes the event educates younger generations.

“If you don’t learn anything from your experiences — whether good or bad or indifferent — you can’t grow,” she said. “I’m hoping that the young people will look at this as a forum to make things better for Ellicott City and Howard County and ultimately, Maryland.”

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Source: Baltimore Sun