Mount Ida (1828) was designed by the highly accomplished architect, Robert Cary Long, Jr, who also designed Temora, St. John's Episcopal Church, the chapel added to Patapsco Female Institute in the 1850's, and many homes and other structures in the Baltimore area. Mount Ida is included as a prominent landmark in all early prints and pictures of Ellicotts Mills. It was part and parcel of the old town. Nobody claims that Mount Ida is as historically significant as some of its more famous neighbors, for example Doughoregan Manor and others. It was built by Charles Timanus (also the principal builder of the Patapsco Female Institute) for William Ellicott, son of Jonathan and Sarah Ellicott, and grandson of Andrew, one of the founders of Ellicott's Mills. It was the last home to be built by an Ellicott within the town's limits as then outlined. Unfortunately, William Ellicott died in 1838 at age forty-three.
The home was built of rubble stone, stuccoed, and painted the old Maryland gold. The framed wing on the west side was not a part of the original structure, but has been in place as long as any living person in the community can recall. It is of the period bridging Greek Revival and the Italianate. As a residence it offered six bedrooms, two parlors, a large front hall (in reality and additional large living room), dining room, kitchen (the original kitchen was in the large basement area), one and a half bathrooms, pantry, and law office (in the frame building). Some modification were made by the late Charles Miller, (owner, and father of Paul L. Miller, current owner), when it was used by a newspaper, other businesses, and as an adjunct to court facilities. It was surrounded by beautiful oak, linden, and other trees, and gardens on the east side placed on terraces.
In the 1850's Mount Ida became the home of Judge John Snowden Tyson, a member of one of Maryland's more prominent families. He and his wife Rachel lived here until their deaths in the 1870s. The property went to their heirs. John Tyson, their only son, also an attorney, died tragically in a boating accident, but his three maiden sisters resided in the home the rest of their lives. Miss Ida Tyson was the last survivor, living until the 1920s. The writer vividly recalls visiting Miss Ida in company of his mother, Desiree Branch Clark, who was reared in the old Presbyterian Manse (now the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hogg and family) bordering on the southwest corner of the Mount Ida property. As a young girl in the 1880s and 1890s, and thereafter, my mother, her parents, the Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Henry Branch, and sibling visited back and forth with the Tyson sisters. Mother's youngest brother, Dr. J. R. Bromwell Branch, as a young boy, frequently charmed Miss Ida Tyson into taking him riding in her carriage or buggy, one of his favorite activities.
Miss Ida Tyson lived into her nineties. During her last years, Mrs. Adelaide Snowden Hodges, Sr. a widow and second cousin to Miss Ida, moved to Mount Ida with her children to take care of her. The writer remembers Miss Ida as a lively person in spirit, but who, nearly deaf, used an ear horn and employed a cane to move about. She was kindly and interested in children, usually providing a treat! The property was bought by Louise T. Clark in the late 1920s.
Mount Ida has not changed much in appearance since the writer's earliest recollections, except for the removal of the four large chimneys-one on each corner-serving eight fireplaces or inset fireplace stoves, four on each floor. The main entrance faces slightly southeast. It is marked by a quite large double door which had a mammoth-size key. The doorway has sidelights. Two-story white columns flank the doorway as well as the French door, which opens to a balcony on the second floor. The windows on each side of the entrance run from floor to ceiling, with many panes. All windows had shutters during the Clark ownership. These, with the chimney, the boxwood, trees, flowers and gardens created a truly attractive and lived-in appearance.
Through to the end of the Clark residence, (1930-1960), a walkway in line with the front entrance extended straight down the gentle natural slope (not the huge man-made band now there) to the driveway. This was always the driveway to Mount Ida from Church Road. On each side of the walkway was the beautiful boxwood. There were stone steps, interspaced with level sections of the walkway. The driveway curved around the west side up to a level unloading and parking area at the northwest corner of the house. A spur from the driveway led to the Carriage House, approximately thirty to forty yards southwest from the house. It appeared as a miniature Mount Ida. On its first level were a couple of horse stalls and space for a carriage and buggy. The upper level stored some hay and had a coachman's quarters. The carriage house was made of rubble stone, stuccoed, and painted the old Maryland gold. The writer, his younger brothers and some of the neighbor boys used the coachman's quarters as a "club" room with Father's approval provided we cleaned out the whole building and kept it neat.
Charles B. Clark, 1994