Charles E. Miller

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Charles E. Miller
Charles E. Miller Library.jpg
Charles E. Miller Library
Died9 July 1979
Howard County General Hospital
Known forFoundation of Columbia, Maryland
Political partyRepublican
Board member ofHoward County Commissioner
Spouse(s)Grace E.

Charles E. Miller (1903–1979) was an American politician and businessman in Howard County, Maryland[1]

Early life[edit]

Charles Miller started as a Magistrate in Ellicott City, Maryland.[2] Miller was a County Commissioner from 1938-1949. Miller served on the Howard County Board of Education starting in 1950, becoming the President of the board in 1954 and serving until 1962. Miller operated Howard County's last segregated school district, phasing out the practice over an 11-year plan.[3]

Land donations[edit]

Miller co-owned land outside Ellicott City with Benjamin Mellor, an insurance broker to the school board from the firm Herrman and Car.[4] Both donated 8 acres of land they had already rented to farmer to build the Ellicott City High School on the condition the school system repay his renter for the lost crops. His tenant, E.W. Hardman asked for $700, a steep price for alfalfa crops in January at the end of the depression. The School board offered him half the amount, and he refused the offer.[5]

In 1952, Miller donated $1,000 for the purchase of land for a new Ellicott City colored school. Miller recommended the Nellie Denhart property on Fels road, and contributed another $2,000 toward the project and approved the purchase.[6] At Ellicott City High, 12 additional acres were purchased from Dorothy Marie Gaither for $5,000 with Miller contributing $2,500 for the land and demolition of the "colored house and corn crib" on the property. At the same time, her husband, Robert Lee Gaither bought the property of the recently burnt down Dayton school from the school board auction run by Miller for $750.[7]

In 1956, Miller donated land on Chatham Road to relocate the First Evangelical Lutheran Church from its 1874 structure, which was sold to be converted to a private residence.[8]

In 1962, Miller donated the land to Howard County for the county's first library. The branch was named the Charles E. Miller Branch in his honor.[9]

In 1966, Ellicott City farm owner, Senator Clark proposed an independent parkland commission for Howard County. Miller opposed the legislation, starting a referendum against the measure.[10] A 1972 bill approved by Miller allowed the council on which he sat to veto county purchases of parkland, including a project to create a county park that was proposed to overlay his own property.[11] The legislation created during the political battle over parkland and land-use shaped the creation of the current Howard County Department of Parks & Recreation.

In 1972 Miller was granted permission to restore the historic Mount Ida mansion in Ellicott City and sell it as office space.[12]

In 1974 Miller requested that the 405 acre Gray Rock property he owned since 1945 be rezoned for high-capacity development.[13] The effort to raze the historic 1813 farmhouse "Gray Rock"[14] and slave quarters of Thomas Beale Dorsey and subdivide the land did not get approval.[15][16] In 1975 Miller proposed to build a 200 unit five-story Lutheran hospital on the land with 65 acres preserved. The hospital would have been in competition with the newly constructed Howard County General Hospital, but new legislation was passed requiring hospitals to be in commercial zoned land.[17] In 1977 Miller offered to donate $3 million to the Lutheran hospital with income generated from the approval to build a 325-unit subdivision the remainder of his Gray Rock land. In 2006, after nearly 50 years of opposition, the land around Gray Rock was rezoned and donated to be run as the 216 unit Lutheran Village at Miller's Grant managed by developer Geary K. Milliken.[18] Construction of the $140 million facility broke ground in 2014 after increasing the density to 276 units.[19]


In 1938 Miller was added to the Board of Commissioners in Howard County following the death of Hart B. Noll.[20] where he stayed in office through 1949.[21]

In 1962 Miller became Chairman of the first all-GOP Board of Commissioners.[22] In 1965 State Senator James A. Clark, Jr. proposed a five-person County Council and a County Executive which Miller opposed.[23] Following delays in low-profit parkland approval projects, Clark formed a state-managed commission to fund and purchase parkland for the county, targeting a Miller-owned property he had self-approved for development. Miller countered by creating a central Public Works Department to manage parks within the county.[24] In 1966, Miller lost his bid for council, but was reappointed in November to fill the seat of David W. Force, who died of a brain tumor after winning the election.[25]

As a Councilman, in 1968, Miller approved the construction of the $3.2 million Howard Community College.[26] Miller proposed bills in 1972 that would disallow performances of entertainers with a past history of violence in venues of 3000 or more.[27] In 1973, Concilman Edward L. Cochran queried executive Omar J. Jones and Miller for appointing Robert Wieder as county solicitor. Wieder was also working as a CPA for Miller from Miller's Mt. Ida office building while reviewing a 118-acre land development on Centennial Lane between his wife Florence Wieder and Miller.[28]

The Columbia Project[edit]

In 1962, Miller ran again as for County Commissioner on a no-growth platform against Howard County's first woman candidate Doris Stromberg Thompson, daughter of newspaperman Paul Griffith Stromberg.[29] Miller's GOP platform won all three seats.[30][31][32][33] The same year miller appoints future Rouse lawyer, Lewis S. Nippard as legal council for the County.[34][35] Miller would appoint Nippard to a five-person commission in 1964 to draft a proposal to convert Howard County to a powerful charter form of government.[36] In 1965 Miller was one of three county commissioners that approved the zoning exceptions proposed by Howard Research and Development in 1965 to create the planned community of Columbia, Maryland.[37][38] In 1974, Miller claimed he was solicited by James Rouse and Micheal D Spear to increase the density of Columbia zoning because of economic problems the project was facing. Miller told reporters that "economic problems come from bad management".[39]

Ten years after approving Columbia, Miller stated if he could do it over again, he wouldn't have approved Columbia. He felt exploited and felt the subsidized housing would become a problem for the rest of the county.[40] In regards to the New Town zoning that was created for the city, he was quoted as saying that it was "the greatest misfortune that has ever been perpetuated on Howard County".[39] Miller had been defeated in the November 1974 Howard County Council elections, in part as a result of the changed political landscape that Columbia's development brought. In early 1976, a Columbia Flier editorial charged that Miller was a fear-mongering reactionary who had a personal vendetta against Columbia, Rouse and Columbia residents.[41]

School Board[edit]

Miller was an associate of the school board. In 1953, he became part of a two-man team to choose land purchases for school sites.[42]


In 1927, Miller founded Miller Chevrolet Sales and Service in an Elkridge livery stable with 125 car sales his first year.[43] He relocated to the Green-Cross Garage in Ellicott City in 1928.[44] In 1938 the county closed many single-room schoolhouses and, using WPA money, built consolidated schools requiring bus service. Miller operated a school bus contracting service and serviced and exchanged vehicles for the county school system, the board of which he would become a member of.[45][46] Miller was denied attempts to expand services using high school children to drive his buses, but was able to consistently keep income from school operations for decades.[47] By 1965, he placed his son Donald as president and Paul as secretary of the auto dealership at a new location on Route 40. In 1972, he ended an eight-year service contract selling gas to Howard County's animal control vehicle fleet and driver's education cars.[48][49]

Miller also owned his own land development company, the Miller Land Company which developed properties throughout Howard County.[50] He also owned an interest in the Howard County News firm.[17]

A lifetime resident of Howard County, Miller died in 1979 from a heart attack at Howard County General Hospital.[51][52]

Legacy and honors[edit]

Miller has several places named in his honor, they include:


  1. ^ Joseph R. Mitchell, David Stebenne. New City Upon a Hill: A History of Columbia, Maryland. p. 60.
  2. ^ "SISTERS KILLED CROSSING ROAD NEAR HOME Tenant Farmer's Daughters Die When Struck Near Ellicott City ACCIDENT RAISES YEAR'S TOLL TO 224 Auto Overturns After Hitting Naomi And Dolly Garland -- Driver Held". Baltimore Sun. 9 June 1937.
  3. ^ "Howard County Public School System 1962-1962 Minutes" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 July 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  4. ^ "1949 minutes" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 8 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Board Minutes 1939" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-19. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  6. ^ "1952 Board Minutes" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-02. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  7. ^ "1952 Board minutes" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-02. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  8. ^ Howard County Historical Society. Images of America Howard County. p. 52.
  9. ^ "Miller Branch Library". Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  10. ^ "Park Planning Splits Howard". The Baltimore Sun. 9 March 1966.
  11. ^ MATTHEW J SEIDEN (2 June 1972). "Park site veto Howard bill could save councilman's property". The Baltimore Sun.
  12. ^ Micheal A. Clark (10 March 1972). "Permit to restore Mount Ida mansion as office is granted by Howard panel". The Baltimore Sun.
  13. ^ "Howard Hospital Bid Withdrawn". The Baltimore Sun. 29 June 1974.
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ "Miller's Lutheran gift would exceed $3 million". The Baltimore Sun. 8 March 1977. p. C2.
  16. ^ MICHAEL J. CLARK (21 June 1978). "Historic-site subdivision Gray Rock house to be razed". The Baltimore Sun. p. C24.
  17. ^ a b Micheal J Clark (11 June 1975). "Zone board assailed on Lutheran". The Baltimore Sun.
  18. ^ "Senior housing project gets OK ; Approval of rezoning of Ellicott City site sets stage for rest of process". The Baltimore Sun. 19 May 2006.
  19. ^ Luke Lavoie (10 July 2014). "Lutheran group breaks ground on $140 million retirement community in Ellicott City". The Baltimore Sun.
  20. ^ "Successor To Late Hart B. Noll Is Running For Election As Commissioner". The Baltimore sun. 4 November 1938. p. 6.
  21. ^ "1949 Board Minutes" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  22. ^ "HOWARD UNIT PICKS MILLER Police Chief, Counsel Quit; GOP Unit Takes Over". The Baltimore Sun. 5 December 1962. p. 18.
  23. ^ "Clark Airs Howard Plan". Morning Sun. 12 Feb 1965.
  24. ^ "Miller predicts Shake up in Howard". Evening Sun. 5 April 1966.
  25. ^ "Miller Stays on Board". The Baltimore Sun. 22 November 1966.
  26. ^ "Howard Backs Plan For First 2-Year College". Baltimore Sun. 17 January 1968. p. A9.
  27. ^ Micheal J Clark (5 January 1972). "Bill would let Howard cancel concert of 3,000-plus if violence is feared". The Baltimore Sun. p. 1.
  28. ^ Micheal J Clark (29 August 1973). "Wieder Position Queried". The Baltimore Sun.
  29. ^ "Republican Has Early Lead in Race For State Senate in Anne Arundel GOP Wins 3 Races In Calvert County St. Marys Democrats Overwhelming Victors Charles County Board Control Goes to GOP GOP Board Elected In Howard County". The Washington Post. 7 November 1962.
  30. ^ JULIA MARIE TETI (28 September 1996). "Doris Stromberg Thompson, 82, 'pioneer' for women". Howard County Times. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  31. ^ Janene Holzberg (6 December 2012). "Archives exhibit shows how Columbia came to be 'America's City' started with clandestine purchase of farmland 50 years ago". The Baltimore Sun.
  32. ^ Maryland State Manual. 1963. p. 400.
  33. ^ James A. Clark Jr. (1999). Jim Clark: Soldier, Farmer, Legislator : a Memoir. Gateway Press. p. 109.
  34. ^ "Howard unit picks Miller". The Baltimore Sun. 5 December 1962.
  35. ^ Tom Horton (19 August 1973). "Howard maintains wait & see attitude". The Baltimore Sun.
  36. ^ "OTHERS SEEK CHARTER SPOT 3 Would Join 5 On Howard Ballot For Drafting Unit". The Baltimore Sun. 10 October 1964.
  37. ^ Barbara Kellner. Columbia. p. 11.
  38. ^ Joseph R. Mitchell; David Stebenne (2007). New City Upon a Hill: A History of Columbia, Maryland. The History Press. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-59629-067-9.
  39. ^ a b "Columbia Zoning Assailed". The Baltimore Sun. 1 April 1976.
  40. ^ Michael J. Clark (19 June 1977). "At youthful age of 10, Columbia is feeling like a grown-up new town". The Baltimore Sun. p. B1.
  41. ^ "Middle Patuxent: a solid proposal". The Columbia Flier. 15 January 1976.
  42. ^ "1953 Board Minutes" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-21. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  43. ^ Louise Vest (19 June 2013). "Car dealer opens new state-of-the-art showroom 50 years". Baltimore Sun.
  44. ^ "Checking the Records". The Times. 31 March 1965.
  45. ^ "1938 Board Minutes" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-12-16. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
  46. ^ "1949 Board Minutes" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  47. ^ "1941 board minutes" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-05-13. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  48. ^ Micheal J. Clark (10 June 1972). "Howard quits buying gas sold by councilman". The Baltimore Sun. p. B20.
  49. ^ JONATHAN RODEHEFFER (6 November 1971). "Councilman seeks permit to sell gas after doing it for 8 years". The Baltimore Sun. p. A15.
  50. ^ "Maryland State Archives". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  51. ^ "Charles Miller, Howard Republican, dies". Baltimore Sun. 10 July 1979. p. 1.
  52. ^ Tom Horton (19 August 1973). "Howard maintains 'wait and see' attitude about Columbia". The Baltimore Sun.