Colonial Annapolis is home to many of the oldest Georgian buildings in the U.S. There is so much to see and do. Where should you start?
Annapolis is one of America’s oldest Colonial cities, founded in 1649. It serves as Maryland’s state capital and is also the county seat. It is home to the United States Naval Academy. It has a rich maritime history and proclaims itself “the sailing capital of the world”. Its seafood is second to none with many restaurants featuring the prized Maryland Blue Crab and crabcakes. And the quaint little town is famous for its many small shops and boutiques. All in all, Annapolis is a great place to eat, drink, and be merry. And you can easily spend three or four days exploring Annapolis by land or by sea.
In this first Annapols blog, I will focus on the best historic things to see within the city center. The possibilities are almost endless. And some of the best picks include:
Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial -This monument champions the Gambian slave Kunta Kinte, and the place of his arrival from Africa in 1767. Ten bronze plaques along Compromise Street and the Harbor offer stories and insights from the book Roots by Alex Haley. Just across the street, in the Market House Plaza, there is also a bronze and granite Compass Rose.
Susan Campbell Park - This lovely park overlooking Spa Creek offers the best view of Annapolis harbor and Eastport. Many special events, like the 4th of July Fireworks show and the Christmas Parade of Lights boat parade, take place there. And in summer, the city stages free concerts in the evenings. Numerous tour boats also leave from this location.
U.S. Naval Academy - You can easily spend a whole day exploring the Academy.
Commodore John Barry Monument
Sea Wall Walk
* There are hourly commercial tours of the Academy, starting at the Visitor Center.
Annapolis features one of the nation’s largest and most well-preserved Historic Landmark Districts, and is home to many of the finest Georgian homes and public buildings in America.
Brice House - The Brice house was built by James Brice, who served as Mayor of Annapolis (1782–83 and 1787–88) and as acting Governor of Maryland in 1792. The house remained in the Brice family until 1874. Slave hoodoos were found buried in the basement!
Paca House - This five-part Georgian mansion designed by renowned English architect William Buckland was built in the 1760s by William Paca, one of Maryland’s four Signers of the Declaration of Independence and the state’s third Governor. Carefully restored by Historic Annapolis beginning in 1965, today it is recognized as one of the finest 18th-century homes in the country and a National Historic Landmark. Behind the house you will find one of America’s most extant Colonial gardens. Tours of the mansion can be purchased at the house.
Hammond Harwood House - This historic house museum built in 1774, is one of the premier colonial houses remaining in America from the British colonial period (1607–1776). The house was designed by the architect William Buckland in 1773–74 for wealthy farmer Matthias Hammond of Anne Arundel County, Maryland. The house showcases what is considered to be the finest Georgian door in America. Tours of the mansion can be purchased at the house.
Chase-Lloyd House - The Chase–Lloyd House is a historic house built in 1769-1774, and is one of the first brick three-story Georgian mansions to be built in the Thirteen Colonies. Its construction was started for Samuel Chase, who would later be a signatory to the Declaration of Independence and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, but Chase sold the building unfinished to Edward Lloyd IV in 1771.
St. John’s College- St. John's College is a private liberal arts college known for its distinctive curriculum centered on reading and discussing the Great Books of Western Civilization and ranks in the top 100 Best Liberal Arts Colleges according to U.S. News & World Report.St. John's College is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the United States. It traces its origins to King William's School, a preparatory school founded in 1696, and received a collegiate charter under its present name in 1784. The school grants only one bachelor's degree, in Liberal Arts. Two master's degrees are available through the college's Graduate Institute — one in Liberal Arts, and one in Eastern Classics. The campus is open to the public.
McDowell Hall - This 250 year old, 23,000 square foot structurewas designed in 1742 as the Colonial Governor's Mansion. In 1784 St. John's College acquired the building and completed construction for use as the classroom, dormitory, and administrative college building.
Maryland Avenue Shops - If shopping and fine dining is your thing, this is where you will find many interesting antiques and two of the best restaurants in town, Galway Bay Irish Pub and Harry Browne’s which overlooks the Maryland State House.
Maryland State House - The Maryland State House is the oldest state capitol in continuous legislative use, dating back to 1772. It houses the Maryland General Assembly and offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. The capitol has the distinction of being topped by the largest wooden dome in the United States constructed without nails. The first floor of the State House is open to the public and contains the nation’s first U.S. Senate Chamber, the room where George Washington resigned his commission, and numerous Colonial artifacts.
On the grounds of the State House you will find:
The Old Treasury Building - Located on State Circle, the small brick structure was built in 1735 as a treasury for the Commissioners for Emitting Bills of Credit. It is the oldest public building in Annapolis and the place where taxation in America began.
St. Mary’s Cannon - The St. Mary's Cannon was presented to the State in 1840 by the Reverend Joseph Carbery after its recovery from the St. Mary's River. The Cannon was brought to Maryland from England in 1634 by the first settlers and mounted on the walls of the fort at Maryland's first Capital, St. Mary's City.
Bell off the USS Maryland - The USS Maryland, the third of four named USS ships after the State of Maryland, is a Battleship launched on March 20, 1920. She is known as the "Fighting Mary", a ship that was damaged numerous times and survived the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. This Flagship played a key role in the battles of the South Pacific at Midway, the Gilbert Islands, Leyte Gulf and Okinawa. "Fighting Mary" received 7 battle stars for her service during WWII.
DeKalb Monument - Baron DeKalb, a German volunteer in the Continental Army who died in the Battle of Camden in 1780 is commemorated in this monument by Baltimore sculptor Ephraim Keyser. The statue was authorized by the Maryland House of Delegates in 1817, but not dedicated until 1886.
Government House (Governor’s Mansion) - Across from the Maryland State House you will find the Georgian-style home and manicured gardens of the Governor.
St. Anne’s Church - One of the oldest churches in America, many of the leaders of the Maryland colony are buried in the church’s courtyard (circa 1692), their graves marked by simple (and often unusual stones). Within the church’s sanctuary (its third built after a fire in 1858 destroyed its predecessor) are a number of works of artistic distinction, including the stone altar and baptismal font and unique stained glass windows, including a rare Tiffany.
There is much to see and do in Annapolis and in future blogs I will cover some of the recreational opportunities awaiting you in this wonderful city on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. A trip to Annapolis will be memorable and FREE! Annapolis Walking Tourhttp://www.bystevecarr.com/free-annapolis-walking-tours/ will gladly help you discover the best places to see, dine, and sail, during your stay.
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