“Want to bonk around Elkridge today and look at the river?”
“Sure.” I laughed and glanced across the street to the Tiber River running through historic Ellicott City.
The drive was typical–grinning and holding hands and testing ideas for our generational saga novel–and over before we knew it. We parked in a large lot and looked for a path through the trees and thick underbrush.
“We could ask the guy with the rake standing on the brick walkway.”
“We could ask the rake guy.”
Matthias gave us a lot more than a general wave in the direction of the water. He’s the adopted son of Dan Wecker, executive chef and owner of the Elkridge Furnace Inn [5745 Furnace Avenue, Elkridge, MD 21075, 410-379-9336], and his family used to live down the street in the Garden House, and we could have met his dad but his mom was feeling under the weather so Dan just flew to Holland to help her get ready for a ballroom dancing competition. (No, I was not surprised by all of the information. This happens to me all the time.) After ten minutes of chat, Matthias invited us to make ourselves at home around the property and be sure to grab a brochure from inside before returning his attention to the piles of leaves choking the English ivy.
James and I wandered beneath the pergola to the bicolored brick patio. Overlooking the Patapsco River, which now looks like a shallow creek amid the autumn-thinned trees, he explained that in the 1650s this was deep water bringing sea-going vessels to Elk Ridge Landing to load up hogsheads of tobacco bound for England. After the sand dumped in the river over the decades finally choked the landing–and not to mention the flood of 1868–the river was no longer navigable and the tobacco trade moved north to Baltimore.
Turning back to the property, we took a closer look at the original 1800s wooden tin-roofed buildings which Matthias had told us were used as servants quarters before wandering the slate stone path to the front of the main building. The Colonial Revival porch is wide and welcoming and next to the double-leaf front doors was posted the Fall 2017 menu. Chef Wecker proudly offers organic garden to seasonal table dishes which incorporate fresh produce from the restaurants own gardens and high quality meats butchered on site. Unfortunately, James and I had missed lunch service which ended at 2 p.m., because we would have ordered the Lobster Pot Pie and the Roasted Beet Salad. Another time…
1774 to be exact. Just as we stepped inside the foyer for those brochures, Sari smiled and said she was about to go on break but she would be happy to give us a brief tour. She has only worked at the Inn since June but she and her husband had been married here so she had more than the usual tour tales to tell. In fact, a wedding was scheduled for later that evening hence the quick peek into the Ellicott Room with hunter green walls and fleur-de-lis stenciling, the goldenrod yellow Dorsey Room with a gorgeous black marble mantle, and the Old Kitchen with its huge original cooking fireplace and a door marked “secret staircase”.
Sari lead us through a passageway back into the foyer where we were welcomed by native long-leaf pine floors and a crystal chandelier, and by Bethany who was decorating the period side table for the wedding party. Midway up the switchback stairs a handsome grandfather clock graced the landing. The second floor Grooms Room is the final destination of the aforementioned secret staircase, in case the best man has to provide a bracing scotch on the rocks before the ceremony. It’s a richly appointed former library with a roaring fire and a private enclosed balcony which used to be the servant’s porch. The Carroll and Patapsco Rooms adjoin for when your entire family including your third cousin twice removed fly in to watch you exchange your vows, but have their own mood and decor. the Carroll is a warm Prussian blue while the Patapsco is a deep claret red.