Font Hill Manor, an 18th-century house where some of Howard County's prominent early families lived, is the setting for the 20th Annual Decorator Show House to benefit Historic Ellicott City Inc.

Fifteen design firms have participated in decorating rooms at the house. The month-long event, which is the major fundraiser for Historic Ellicott City Inc., begins tonight with a gala preview party from 7 to 10 p.m. at the house, just west of Ellicott City at 9900 Timberknoll Lane. Built of native granite and featuring several wings, the house will be open to the public from Saturday to Oct. 31, with varying hours during the week. It will be closed on Mondays.

Historic Ellicott City Inc. was established in 1974 to operate the railroad station museum and protect the historic character of Ellicott City.

Tickets are $12 in advance from the county Tourism Office, various businesses and the Ellicott City B&O Railroad Station Museum. Tickets also can be purchased at the door for $15. No children 10 or younger will be admitted.

For further information, call 410-461-6908 or visit on the Internet.

In the attic of Font Hill Manor is an artist's retreat designed by Abbington Accents of Columbia for the fundraiser. Font Hill Manor in Ellicott City has many rooms, porches and outbuildings with which designers had the opportunity to work.