John E. Ellicott was one of the three engineers noted as founding members of the Baltimore Chapter of AIA in 1870-71. He practiced civil engineering and architecture, primarily the former.
He was born in Maryland on September 12, 1834, the youngest of four children of Thomas and Louisa (McFadon) Ellicott, members of the Ellicott family of Ellicott City. On November 5, 1856, he married Virginia Gordon of Washington DC, born in September 1834. We do not know if they had children; none are included in the censuses. John Ellicott was still alive in 1881. He had died by 1900 when the census listed Virginia as a widow living in Washington, DC. We do not know their dates of death nor where they are buried.
Ellicott served as an officer of the Confederate Army for the duration of the Civil War, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, serving initially in the Corps of Engineers and later in the Niter and Mining Corps, a unit to keep the confederacy supplied with minerals and metals needed for the war effort.
He may have provided engineering services for the new Baltimore City Hall in the 1860s.
In 1865, Ellicott was a partner with Eben Faxon as architects, civil and mechanical engineers, and dealers in real estate. He lived at 37 Mount Vernon Place, now 31 E. Mount Vernon Place.
Faxon (1821-1868) had a few known architectural commissions including St. Martin Roman Catholic Church, a masterpiece still standing on Fulton at Fayette Streets, and final design and construction of Latrobe’s west portico for the Roman Catholic Cathedral (now Basilica) of the Assumption.
In 1867, Ellicott designed the alterations and additions to the Albert House (by architect Louis L. Long of Baltimore), now 105 W. Monument Street, to convert it to the Mount Vernon Hotel. The additions included a connection to a house on Park Avenue and a massive mansard roof to add another story, all removed in 1902 by architects Parker & Thomas of Baltimore and Boston.
George A. Frederick recalled Ellicott and his work in his Recollections (1912):
John E. Ellicott’s major architectural project was the Lynchburg Female Orphan Asylum (Miller Home) 1872 in Virginia, an imposing structure in the Italianate style.
It was demolished in 1959.
Ellicott received an invitation in 1874 from the Argentine Government to serve as aide to General P. G. T. Beauregard with the ranks of Major General and Brigadier General, respectively, in the Argentine service. Beauregard is reported as having accepted while Ellicott “[did] not evince an inclination at present to do so.” With the news of this invitation, his prior service “during the late war” was noted as well as his railroad and light-house work, the latter as Chief of the Light-horse Corps on the Pacific Coast, which might have been in the 1850s when Congress passed acts for Pacific Coast lighthouses to aid in navigation by the increasing Pacific traffic following the Gold Rush of 1849.