Where We Live: Savage, in Maryland's Howard County

By Laura Barnhardt Cech
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, August 21, 2010

Shoppers browse in Savage's antique shops. Neighbors gather by the community hall for summer-evening concerts. Children play in local recreation leagues. It all seems so peaceful.

Then you hear the blood-curdling screams.

Locals just smile. They're used to the occasional shriek from the zip line at the nearby outdoor adventure center.

"It sounds fun," said Jenna Reese, who lives and works in Savage, a town in southeastern Howard County.

Reese, who moved to Savage from Northern Virginia, decided to open her information technology office in the historic Savage Mill, a former textile mill that's now home to a mix of antique shops, offices, restaurants and artist studios. She can walk to work.

"I love it," said Reese, owner of Agile Emissary. "It has good karma."

The Savage Mill Historic District, which includes the mill complex and several blocks of former mill workers' homes, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The nearby Bollman Truss Railroad Bridge is a National Historic Landmark.

"It's an interesting little town," said Galen Menne, president of the Savage Historical Society and retired pastor at the United Methodist Church of Savage.

While Savage is best known for the mill, which operated from 1822 until 1947, it was also once a Christmas village.

A Baltimore businessman, Harry Heim, owned the mill between 1947 and 1950 and used it as a factory to make and decorate Christmas ornaments. A miniature B&O Railroad transported visitors to and from a Route 1 parking area. Heim also kept reindeer in the town's park. He even went so far as to ask state legislators to change the name of Savage to Santa Heim, Merriland.

Even today, Christmas is a big deal in Savage. Santa rides through on a fire engine. And residents gather for a tree-lighting.

"Still, Savage is kind of a secret in Howard County," said Janis Markopoulos, who created a Savage blog to unite residents and let them know about one another's events.

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