Historical Explorations, Annapolis
The Annapolis Historic Preservation Commission provides a Guide to Architecture in Annapolis. We used this map of the historic district as a walking tour; 52 sites & homes were identified photographs & descriptions were provided. We went into St. Anne's Church, Reynolds Tavern, Brewer Tavern The Coffee House, & Old Treasury. We missed touring the William Paca House, Governors Mansion, Hammond-Harwood House, and Chase Lloyd House. We walked throughout the district for 2.5 hrs. enjoying the charming & quaint homes & their historical significance.
The Original Plaque - A Modern Mystery
The original plaque commemorating the arrival of Kunta Kinte on September 29, 1767 aboard the ship Lord Ligonier was installed in the walkway along the waters edge at the Annapolis, Maryland City Dock in 1981. Alex Haley, the author of the Pulitzer prize-winning book Roots, a story about Kunta Kinte and his descendants, attended the plaque’s dedication ceremony Thousands of people witnessed the historic event.
Today the whereabouts of that original plaque remain one of the biggest mysteries of the history of Annapolis. For within 48 hours after the dedication ceremony, the plaque was stolen by one or more unknown thieves. The thieves left a calling card stating the site had been visited by the KKK. The story immediately caught the attention of the international media. The local citizens, enraged over the theft, vowed to raise new funds to replace the stolen plaque.
Two months later a replacement plaque was installed. While extensive search efforts were made to find the original plaque, including dredging the waters along the dock area, it has never been found. The plaque visitors see today is the 1981 replacement plaque.
The Story Wall
The Row of granite-framed markers along the City seawall present ten sculpted bronze plaques. The plaques share messages designed to encourage reconciliation and healing from a legacy of slavery, ethic hatred, and oppression. They include commentray and original art about translated epigraphs from Alex Haley's messages in Roots.
The Sculpture Group
The Sculpture Group contains of a life-size bronze statue of a seated Alex Haley reading from a book on his lap, and three life-size bronze sculptures of children from different ethnic backgrounds. It was a beautiful day & we sat next to Alex Haley, with others and enjoyed the view of the Memorial’s sculptures, the harbor & boats.
This was the home of William Paca, one of Annapolis' most prominent citizens in the mid-18th century. Paca was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and later governor of Maryland.
After many years of neglect, it was restored during the early 1970s. Self-paced tours of the historic house begin at the back door. Costumed guides explain the function of each room, and answer questions. Sorry, no photos are allowed inside.
The garden, in back, is beautiful. It's a somewhat scaled-down version of an English country garden. Be sure to allow some time to see it.
Take the bus tour of Annapolis. It gives you a good overview and history of the city. Annapolis has a lot of history and this is the best way to find it out. It's reasonably priced. Just park at the visitor center and sign up for the tour.
After taking this ride-by minibus tour, I believe a believer in them. It was $15 and a comfortable minibus with large windows and a knowledgeable driver/guide. We saw all of the major attractions: the State House, the Governor's Mansion, St. John's College, some of the Naval Academy and other sights. We got out at Severn Overlook and could see the whole city laid out before us along the water. Gorgeous.
After you get an overview, you're able to pinpoint exactly what you do/don't want to see next. It might be one of the first things you want to do wherever you visit.
1) Who was Anne?
2) Why is an Episcopal Church one of the central buildings in the capitol of a state that was founded by Catholics?
A1) Anne is by legend the grandmother of Jesus Christ, the mother of the Virgin Mary.
A2) In 1694, the Provincial Assembly voted to make Anne Arundel Town the new capital of the Province of Maryland. Although Calvertists in Saint Mary's City protested vigorously, the capital was moved. [Baltimore was not considered because it did not even become a town until 1729.]
The two circles (State and Church) were set down by Governor Francis Nicholson in 1693. He also changed the name of Anne Arundel Town to Annapolis (Anne's City) in 1695. Anne Arundel was the wife of a Calvert. Anne was a royal princess.
The first church was specified by the Assembly to be 65 feet long, 30 feet wide with a porch and a tower in which to hang a bell. The front door was built it faced east, toward the State House..
The second St. Anne's was constructed in 1793 after the Revolutionary War. On St. Valentine's Day in 1858, a fire gutted the interior of the church and Queen Anne's bell perished in the conflagration..
The present church was built in the Romanesque Revival style and incorporated a portion of the old tower.
"The St. Anne's Compass Rose adorns the top of the church steeple and signifies the universal call of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the mission of St. Anne's Parish to our entire city and county."
Also on Church Circle look for Reynold's Tavern which was originally built in 1747 as the home and shop of hatmaker, William Reynolds. The lower floors were converted into a tavern later. In 1935, volunteers bought the old Tavern and converted it into a research library.
Regardless of whether or not you're a naval history buff, the crypt of Jean Paul Jones is really interesting. He was a Frenchman who fought with the Americans during the Revolutionary War and became the first 'official' caption of the US Navy in 1974 with his ship, the Serrapis. He lies now in a crypt underneath the beautiful chapel, facing the ocean per his request to be burried with an ocean view. It's a pretty neat little place.
Memorial Hall is beautiful - fabulous artwork of famous naval battles and a piece of Jean Paul Jone's banner on the Serrapis. This is a great place to take a stroll through or have a formal banquet, if you're lucky enough to be there for one.
Strolling the streets of this old city, one of the earliest in America, one stumbles across a good many interesting buildings of all kinds.
This 18th century mansion was owned by one of Maryland's 4 signers of the Declaation of Independance. The mansion and gardens have been restored to their original 18th century condition.
Another preserved house from one of Annapolis, signers of the declaration of independance. This house was built in 1769.
This house was built in 1774 for Mathias Hammond, a wealthy planter. Today it is restored with period furniture and is avaialbe for tour.
St Anne's church, located in the center of Church Circle in downtown, was completed in 1858. The current structure is the third church to be built on this historic circle.