A Maryland Patriot’s Annapolis Home (Guest Blog)

By Glenn E. Campbell, Senior Historian, Historic Annapolis

William Paca was one of the four Maryland men who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and he served as the state’s third governor at the end of the Revolutionary War. After marrying the wealthy and well-connected Mary Chew in 1763, the young lawyer built a five-part brick house and terraced pleasure garden on two acres of land in Annapolis. The couple had three children, but only one of them survived to adulthood, and they cared for an orphaned niece for several months in 1765-66. In addition to Paca family members, the Georgian mansion also housed a number of enslaved individuals and bound servants.

William Paca House

William Paca House and Garden, located at 186 Prince George Street in Annapolis. Photo: Ken Tom

After William Paca sold it in 1780, the house continued as a single-family home until 1801, then served mainly as a rental property for much of the 19th century. Later owners and occupants added upper floors to the building’s wings and hyphens; this increased the square footage of its potential rental space but disrupted the structure’s original Georgian symmetry. In 1901, national tennis champion William Larned purchased the property, added a large addition and created Carvel Hall, known as Annapolis’s finest hotel for much of the 20th century.

WPHG Summer 2017 Credit Tom, K

In the early 1970s, Historic Annapolis and the State of Maryland undertook extensive archeological investigations to restore the garden to its colonial appearance. Photo: Ken Tom

Concerned that developers might tear down the home of a Signer of the Declaration of Independence, the nonprofit preservation group Historic Annapolis and the State of Maryland bought the Paca mansion and the rest of the Carvel Hall site in 1965. Over the next decade, a team of experts—archival researchers, archaeologists, architectural historians, paint analysts, x-ray photographers, carpenters, masons, landscape designers, horticulturists, and other skilled professionals—restored the William Paca House and Garden to their 18th-century configurations and appearances. The site was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1971. Historic Annapolis and the Maryland Historical Trust continue to work closely together as the property’s stewards for today and the future.

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Candidates for American citizenship take the Oath of Allegiance on July 4, 2016. Photo: Ken Tom

Since 2006, Historic Annapolis has hosted an Independence Day Naturalization Ceremony at the William Paca House and Garden. It’s especially fitting to welcome new citizens (over 300 so far!) into the American family at the Signer’s home every July 4th, because William Paca himself became a citizen of the newborn United States on that historic date in 1776. The basic truths and simple yet profound ideals expressed so powerfully in the Declaration of Independence motivated his patriotic action 241 years ago, and they continue to attract people to our shores to share in the freedoms enjoyed by American citizens.

Maryland’s Old Senate Chamber Reopens Its Doors!

By Marcia Miller, Chief, Office of Research, Survey and Registration

The Chamber is open! The Old Senate Chamber in the Maryland State House has opened its doors to visitors once again after completing a multi-year, state-of-the-art restoration. The extensive project returned the room as accurately as possible to its 18th-century appearance. Exhaustive physical investigation and meticulous research, combined with fieldwork throughout the City of Annapolis, ensured the authenticity of the richly-ornamented architectural detailing and the furnishings as they would have appeared on December 23, 1783.

The Old Senate Chamber as it would have appeared on December 23, 1783 during the resignation ceremony of General George Washington. The gallery has been recreated based on historic photographs, physical evidence, and documentary records.

The Old Senate Chamber as it would have appeared on December 23, 1783 during the resignation ceremony of General George Washington. The gallery has been recreated based on historic photographs, physical evidence, and documentary records.

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Guest Blog – Bells Across the Land: Remembering Appomattox

 

By Nick Redding, Executive Director, Preservation Maryland

Bells Across the LandOn April 9, 1865, after four years of combat, the Civil War came to a symbolic end in the tiny hamlet of Appomattox, Virginia when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant. The surrender at Appomattox signaled the end of the long, harsh conflict which ultimately claimed the lives of 750,000 individuals and led to the emancipation of the nearly 4.5 million enslaved African-Americans held in the southern states, including Maryland.

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Four new historical markers have been installed this fall along Maryland’s roadways

The Maryland Historical Trust, State Highway Administration, and local partners recently installed four new roadside historical markers along Maryland’s roadways, bringing the total number of markers to 816!  The new markers celebrate a wide range of stories and places, ranging from the slave trade in Baltimore City to the establishment of the Town of Princess Anne in Somerset County. Continue reading

National Park Service to hold public meetings on the John Smith National Historic Trail

This October, the National Park Service is presenting alternative concepts for the future of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. These concepts will describe management objectives, policies, and actions that will guide the development of the trail over the next 15-20 years. How do you think the trail should be developed? Please join us for a series of eight public workshops to be held around the Bay in mid-October. Continue reading