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About the Oella Company

Twin blows struck Oella in 1972. The mill shut down, and tropical storm Agnes flooded Ellicott City and the lower end of Oella. Social, economic, and environmental problems followed, causing distress of the mill village of more than 100 houses, a community hall, and a Church building. No one wanted to take over the responsibility for the village until Charles Wagandt, great grandson of William J. Dickey who had bought Oella at auction in 1887, stepped forward and bought the mill village, exclusive of the mill, in 1973. He had worked in the mill and brought with him civic experience in housing, planning, and historic preservation. In 1976 Oella gained recognition as a National Register Historic District.

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Charles Wagandt formed the Oella Company and began pressing for the installation of water and sewer. He brought together engineers, architects, and land planners to plan for the future. The vision included historic preservation, sensitive infill development, and a social program to make it possible for long term tenants to remain in improved housing at rents affordable to them. Baltimore County helped, and Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse was brought in to rehab 37 row homes. The Oella Company undertook the rest of the rehabs along with property development and management. Houses began undergoing restoration as workmen poked through old plaster and dry wall to uncover the fireplaces, logs, and stones of an earlier era. Rehabilitation ended the days of the chamber pot and became part of the quest to preserve and enhance the historic, architectural, and natural environment. Houses in the mill village of Oella have repeatedly won awards for excellence in housing rehabilitation.

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In the spring of 1984 Oelleans celebrated the completion of the Companyís first four rehabs by pushing over an outhouse. Historic restoration and upgrading continued apace, initially for rental and later for sale. The 76 village acres qualified for 242 housing units. The company clustered most of that development. This maximized the amount of open space and fully utilized the new infrastructure. The Oella Company thereby practiced "smart growth" before the term entered our lexicon. Though the Oella Company built some new housing, for the most part it determined the location of the new lots and sold them to builders. In all but Patapsco Falls, the Oella Company developer, Charles Wagandt, exercised architectural controls, which are now the responsibility of the Oella HOA Board.

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The Oella Company is now focusing on the last section of the Oella project, Granite Hill. Though the last area to be reborn, it predates Oella proper and was founded in 1806. There will be 16 homes, a mixture of old and new.

The company continues to manage and rent some residential and commercial property in Oella and is offering for sale a unique hilltop custom lot as well as other houses and lots.

The Oella Company has earned wide recognition, such as the Project of the Year award from the Remodelerís Council of the Homebuilders Association of Maryland, Preservation Project Award in 2005, and many other awards of excellence. The company shared in the Maryland Improvement Contractors Association Remodeler of the Year Award in 2000. Charles Wagandt has been individually recognized by the Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission and Howard County Historic District Commission. He has received the two top historic preservation awards in the State of Maryland: the Calvert Prize (Maryland Historical Trust) and the President's Award (Preservation Maryland). The trust also honored him for "initiating and bringing to completion the stabilization, relocation and outstanding rehabilitation of the severely damaged..." 1789 George Ellicott House on the Patapsco River.