St. Mary's College – Ellicott City, Maryland - Atlas Obscura
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Ellicott City, Maryland

St. Mary's College

The ruins of a religious preparatory school in a seemingly non-existent town. 

On a ridge overlooking the Patapsco River and adjacent to the Ilchester Paper Mill sits the ruins of St. Mary’s College. The former religious school, which opened in the 1890s, prepared hundreds of young men for the seminary until it was eventually moved to a nearby facility in the 1950s. After closing its doors in the 1950s, the desolate school, located in the seemingly non-existent town of Ilchester, quickly became a haven for local teenagers to explore and deface. Ghost stories and urban legends began to spread throughout the area about the location and its supposed ill-intended religious practices. Over time, nearby residents began to refer to it as “Hell House.”

Hell House remained mostly intact for several decades until a mysterious fire destroyed a large portion of the property in November 1997. The result was even more haunting, as a crumbled and charred red brick building with shattered windows and ubiquitous graffiti now sat ominously on the hill. Over time, word spread of the haunted school and visitors began to come in droves. The property owner then attempted to deter these trespassers with guard dogs and local police.

Today, only rubble remains. The last of the standing structures were knocked down in the mid 2000s. However, several sets of staircases leading up to the school are still intact, giving the wooded ruins an eerie, hair-raising atmosphere.

Know Before You Go

Two options: 1) Park at the bend of the road where Illchester Road meets River Road then walk back to the railroad bridge (parking beneath the railroad tracks will likely get you a ticket). There are steps hidden in the brush on the south side of the railroad bridge. Look for a second flight of stairs in the woods that take you up to the ruins. 2) Take the Buzzard's Rock trail off of Hilltop Road to get a bird's eye view of the property