Today is International Women’s Day and we are shining a spotlight on world-renowned conservator and paint analyst, Dr. Susan Buck! Susan has worked in the field of paint and finishes analysis since 1991 and completed her PhD in Art Conservation Research at the University of Delaware in 2003 where she won an outstanding dissertation award from the College of Arts and Sciences. Her private conservation work includes analysis and treatment on objects and architecture for many institutions including the World Monuments Fund Qianlong Garden Conservation Project in The Forbidden City in Beijing. Susan has conducted paint analysis on numerous buildings throughout Maryland and MHT is lucky to have worked closely with her on major restoration projects such as the Maryland State House, the old Treasury Building, and the James Brice House.
Paint is one of the most prominent features of any given space, whether it is on the exterior covering of the dome of the State House or the interior finishes of the main rooms of the Brice House. Proper analysis of paint layers is essential, therefore, to understanding the original colors as well as the pigments and various ingredients used in each layer. During the State House dome restoration, Susan constructed a full chronology of paint layers from the most recent all the way to its original construction. Her analysis concluded that the dome was painted approximately 20 to 30 times in 235 years—and identified the soft, creamier color now visible on the dome. Her analysis also helped to determine proper preparation of surfaces and makeup of the paint ensuring a successful restoration. Her work at the Old Treasury has helped to determine the earliest window configurations as well as identifying a redwash that covered the brickwork.
Susan worked both inside and out at the James Brice House collecting samples from the interior plaster finishes and walls, the woodwork, the exterior cornice, and even a yellow wash on the brick masonry. Based on her analysis, paint and plaster conservators are able to recreate painted finishes throughout. For example, she discovered 16 layers of paint in the entry, beginning with a deep yellow distemper on top of a sanded plaster which gave the appearance of stone. There are three different generations of modern plaster skimcoats sandwiched between the 16 generations of surviving wall paints in this cross-section, some of which can be related to later paints on the cornice. Conversely, the door leading to the study only had six generations. It is likely that all the woodwork in this room was originally painted blue, and in the cross-section below it is possible to see that the distinctive blue paint became discolored and degraded before it was painted over with the tannish grain-painting sequence in the second generation. Generation 3 is a tan paint, which is followed by later paints that can be aligned with woodwork paints in the entrance hall. The photomicrograph of the paint stratigraphy shows that the earliest three paint generations became quite dirty before being painted over, so considerable time elapsed between those repainting campaigns.
Dr. Susan Buck has been leading the way in paint analysis and conservation for over 30 years, and MHT cannot wait to continue working on projects across the state with her and other visionary women in preservation. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages throughout the rest of the month as we highlight projects from the National Park Service Underrepresented Community Grant project that is just wrapping up. This project is documenting sites related to the women’s suffrage movement, and the first post was about 817 North Charles Street in Baltimore.
We are pleased to announce this year’s African American Heritage Preservation Program (AAHPP) grant recipients! Jointly administered by The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture and the Maryland Historical Trust, the AAHPP promotes the preservation of Maryland’s African American heritage by funding construction projects at significant sites throughout the state. This year’s projects include museums, cemeteries, an interpretive memorial, a historic lodge, community centers, and a historic school. Read more about our newly funded AAHPP grant projects below.
Mount Auburn Cemetery – Baltimore City ($100,000) | Sponsor: Mount Auburn Cemetery Company
Dedicated in 1872 and originally known as “The City of the Dead for Colored People,” Mount Auburn Cemetery was one of the first—and now only remaining—cemetery owned and operated by African Americans in Baltimore. It is a unique representation of the values and burial traditions of this community from the late 19th century to the present. Grant funds will support repairs to damaged decorative and security fencing, as well as resurfacing inner roadways.
Hoppy Adams House – Annapolis, Anne Arundel County ($100,000) | Sponsor: Charles W. “Hoppy” Adams Jr. Foundation, Inc.
Celebrated African American radio broadcaster for WANN Annapolis, Charles “Hoppy” Adams Jr was widely known for spreading soul and R&B music to Black and white audiences. Adams hosted popular concerts at Carr’s Beach, an important venue on the “Chitlin Circuit” during segregation. This project will rehabilitate the home Adams built for himself in 1964, which was left to the elements when he passed in 2005. Future phases of work will convert the space into a museum and event space to celebrate the life of Hoppy Adams and the unifying effect of R&B music during this divisive era.
Mt. Calvary United Methodist Church – Arnold, Anne Arundel County ($86,000) | Sponsor: Mount Calvary United Methodist Church
Mt. Calvary United Methodist Church began gathering on this site between 1832- 1842, making it the oldest African American congregation in Arnold. Grant funds will support the replacement of the 40-year-old roof and repairing the deteriorating handicap ramp that is currently causing moisture intrusion for the church, as well as adding a second ramp.
Eastport Elementary School, 3rd Street – Annapolis, Anne Arundel County ($100,000) | Sponsor: The Seafarers Yacht Club, Inc.
Originally built in 1918 as Eastport’s school for African American children, Eastport Elementary School closed when Anne Arundel School finally integrated, nearly a decade after Brown v Board of Education. Today, the building is owned by the Seafarers Yacht Club, Inc., formed in 1959 by a group of Black men with a shared interest in boating. They purchased the vacant building in 1967 after they were inspired to form their own club in response to marinas that routinely refused Black boaters to dock at their piers, as well as yacht clubs that denied membership to Black captains. This grant project will fund interior and exterior repairs and security improvements.
Old Wallville School – Prince Frederick, Calvert County ($27,000) | Sponsor: Friends of the Old Wallville School, Inc.
A representation of the segregated educational facilities of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Old Wallville School is a one-room wooden schoolhouse that was used to educate African American students in the unincorporated village from 1880-1934. In 2006, the building was moved and placed adjacent to Calvert Elementary School. Now restored to its appearance in the early 1930s, it is used as a popular heritage tourism destination. This grant project will fund rot and roof repairs, structural signage replacement, and painting to protect the building from the elements and heavy use.
Parren J Mitchell House and Cultural Center – Baltimore City ($100,000) | Sponsor: Upton Planning Committee, Inc.
Originally built 1880, this rowhome is probably best known for its resident Parren Mitchell, the Black Congressmen to represent Maryland. This renovation project will return the long-vacant building to its historic role as a center of political and social life for the community and region as the new Parren Mitchell Center, which will serve as an events and retreat center. Grant funds will support exterior masonry restoration and repointing, window restoration, and accessibility improvements.
Boyds Negro School – Boyds, Montgomery County ($50,000) | Sponsor: Boyds Clarksburg Historical Society, Inc.
Built in 1895, Boyds Negro School is Montgomery County’s only remaining one-room schoolhouse for African American children that is regularly open to the public. This project will focus on engineering and site work to protect the building and grounds from flooding. It will also add a handicap ramp to make the building ADA accessible.
Richard Potter House – Denton, Caroline County ($50,000) | Sponsor: Fiber Arts Center of the Eastern Shore Inc.
Richard Potter published a book in 1866 – The Narrative of the Experience, Adventures and Escape of Richard Potter – documenting his experiences from when he was kidnapped in Greensboro, Maryland, enslaved in Delaware, and eventual escape and return to Caroline County to what is now known as the Richard Potter House (c.1810). The site is included as part of the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom. This project will restore the first floor of the home to its 1855 interior, using it as a museum and classroom space.
Mt. Zion Memorial Church– Princess Anne, Somerset County ($86,000) | Sponsor: Somerset County Historical Trust, Inc.
Mt. Zion Memorial Church survives as one of the few late-19th century African American churches in Somerset County and its intact condition enhances its architectural significance. Inside, one of the most distinctive features of the building — the early-20th century bead board ceiling – is at risk due to a leaking roof. While Mt. Zion is no longer used to hold regular church services, it does reflect the lasting influence of Methodism on the African American community in Somerset County. Grant funds will repair severe water damage.
New Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church – Berlin, Worcester County ($67,000) | Sponsor: New Bethel United Methodist Church, Inc.
Founded in 1855, New Bethel is the oldest African American Methodist congregation in Worcester County. Known as the Godfather of gospel music, Rev. Charles Albert Tindley was a member of the church in boyhood, and attended when he would visit from Philadelphia as an adult. The grant project will fund roof replacement and carpentry repairs.
Ridgley Methodist Church – Landover, Prince George’s County ($50,000) | Sponsor: Mildred Ridgley Gray Charitable Trust, Inc.
Through exhibitions and educational programs, the Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center shares the county’s untold stories of African Americans. The grant-funded pre-development project will involve the design of facility renovations. They will also build an addition to provide support and affordable housing space for Black artists.
St. James African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church – Towson, Baltimore County ($30,000) | Sponsor: St. James African Union Methodist Protestant Church, Inc
In 1881, the St. James African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church was built on property believed to be the first documented African American landholding in Towson. The church began as a one-story wood-frame building and was raised to two stories in 1906 to accommodate the congregation’s growth. This project will fund structural repairs to the roof framing and chimney, as well as full roof replacement.
Buffalo Soldier Park – Eden, Wicomico County ($74,000) | Sponsor: Greater Washington Dc Chapter Of The Ninth And Tenth (Horse) Cavalry Association, Inc.
Named “Buffalo Soldier House” for his time in the United States 9th Cavalry Regiment Company C, Thomas Polk, Sr. built a two-story home on his property sometime in the late 1920s and rebuilt it in 1962-63 after it was destroyed in a fire. This project will focus on the pre-development and renovations needed to convert his home into the Buffalo Soldier Living History Site, which will include a visitors’ center and exhibit space.
Adams Methodist Episcopal Church and Cemetery – Lothian, Anne Arundel County ($80,000) | Sponsor: Adams U.M. Church
Adams Methodist Episcopal Church site contains two church buildings: the original 1883 church, a simple weatherboard-sided late-Victorian structure; and a more modern brick church, completed in 1968. Work for this project will focus on the brick church and on the graveyard on site.
If you are planning to apply for funding for an AAHPP project, the FY2024 grant round will begin in the spring of 2023, with workshops in April and applications due July 1. For more information about AAHPP, please visit our website or contact Ivy Weeks, Capital Programs Administrator, at email@example.com.
Today is Inauguration Day for Maryland’s new Governor, Wes Moore, who will be sworn into office outside the Maryland State House, once used by the Continental Congress and the oldest state capitol in continuous legislative use in the country. This makes it the perfect place for such a historic moment in Maryland history, and a perfect opportunity to showcase the newly restored State House dome.
The History of the State House and Dome
There have been no fewer than three capitol buildings on State Circle in Annapolis, with architect Joseph Horatio Anderson and builder Charles Wallace beginning work on the third State House in early 1772. The State House would have been an impressive building in Annapolis, towering above the buildings around it. In 1781, Jean-Francois-Louis de Clermont-Crèvecoeur, a lieutenant in Rochambeau’s army that fought in the American Revolution, wrote about the State House during his time in North America. He called it the “most beautiful of any in America…a beautiful colonnaded peristyle elevated above the ground.” Similarly, during his time on the eastern seaboard, French army chaplain Abbé Claude Robin wrote in 1781 that the “state-house is a very beautiful building, I think the most so of any I have seen in America. The peristyle is set off with pillars, and the edifice is topped with a dome.”
The focus for many contemporary writers appears to be on the positioning of the building, its columns, and the dome that sat on the top. However, Clermont-Crèvecoeur does mention that the dome was too small “since its contour is pierced by only six windows that are too small for the space they must light.” By 1785, reports indicated that the roof of the dome had begun to leak. At this time, more people beyond Clermont-Crèvecoeur had also noticed the dome’s diminutive size, so local architect and builder Joseph Clark was hired to design and build the expanded dome we see today. He completed the exterior of the dome in 1792, which is when the carpenter’s and plasterer’s contracts were awarded for the interior of the dome. Local cabinetmaker John Shaw took over the completion of the interior of the dome in 1794, when Clark left Annapolis for a career in the newly established Washington, DC. Shaw finished the remainder of the State House dome by 1797.
Who Built the State House and Dome?
During the Revolutionary War, many skilled workers left Annapolis. This caused difficulties for builders in the city, who could not find craftsmen for their projects (and eventually contributed to Annapolis losing the prominence it once had to Baltimore). Securing workers to build both the original State House and its redesigned dome was a continuous issue. As an example, Clark was unable to find locally the 30 journeyman carpenters he initially advertised for in April 1785. Due to these shortages in Annapolis, we do know that carpenters were brought down from Baltimore, and that the state paid passage for “sundry” carpenters from Ireland and England. For instance, there is correspondence to Charles Wallace in 1771 discussing the possibility of bringing two house carpenters and joiners over from London to the United States. We also have records of free and enslaved Black carpenters, joiners, sawyers, blacksmiths, and laborers who were hired out or sold throughout Annapolis during this period. While Clark did not maintain an enslaved workforce for his building projects, he was a slaveholder and not averse to using forced labor.
Together, this suggests that a combination of skilled and unskilled free Black, enslaved Black, free white, and indentured white workers likely built the State House and new dome. Ongoing research is focusing on uncovering the identities of these artisans who helped build the State House, both enslaved and free. Through primary documents, researchers have identified some white craftsmen, such as carpenters Joshua Botts and William Gilmour and plasterer Thomas Dance. Dance took on the dome’s interior plaster contract and fell to his death while working on the project. To date, no Black craftsmen have been definitively identified. A new avenue of research will be to examine the contemporary names inscribed on the timber beams of the interior dome.
The Dome Restoration
The dome is a massive heavy-timber-framed roof system, constructed with traditional pinned joints and original wrought iron straps. The exterior is covered with slate and cypress shingles. The dome is topped with an acorn, originally crafted from cypress wood and covered with copper panels. These panels were gilded on the top and painted on the bottom. The acorn, which provides stability to the wrought iron lightning rod, utilized a common motif at the time to represent perfection (perhaps a trait that Clark hoped the State House would go on to emulate).
Remarkably intact, with mostly original materials, the dome and the State House it sits on can certainly still be considered the “most beautiful of any in America”—particularly after the year-long collaborative effort between the Maryland Department of General Services and the Maryland Historical Trust towards its restoration, the beginning of a comprehensive exterior and grounds project. The scaffolding that went up in April has now been removed, unveiling the freshly painted dome and ending this first phase of the project.
This part of the project focused on all areas of the dome: restoration of the lower lantern balcony and balustrade, restoration of window sashes and trim, replacement of slate, and repair and replacement of wood shingles. The original weathervane and lightning rod were restored, and the acorn was regilded and painted. The dome was painted with a traditional linseed oil paint, with the historic colors selected through paint analysis.
The firm of Mesick, Cohen, Wilson, Baker Architects from Albany, New York, served as project architect for this restoration and the Christman Company of Sterling, Virginia, served as the general contractor. Numerous subcontractors and consultants, highly skilled in the analysis, conservation, and buildings technologies of the 18th century, have ensured the preservation of this iconic dome for generations to come.
We are pleased to announce the FY2022 Historic Preservation Capital grant recipients! The Historic Preservation Capital Grant Program provides support for preservation-related acquisition and construction projects, as well as for architectural, engineering, archaeology, and consulting services needed in the development of a construction project. All assisted properties must be either eligible for or listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the list of historic and culturally significant properties maintained by the National Park Service. Nonprofits, local jurisdictions, business entities, and individuals may apply for up to $100,000 per project. Projects compete for funding out of our $600,000 program allotment each year.
In FY2022, MHT received more than 40 applications requesting a combined total of over $3.2 million, which demonstrates a very strong demand for this funding. MHT awarded seven preservation projects throughout the state, including a unique window restoration, a 19th century bank barn, and the home of a significant civil rights advocate. Read more about all our newly funded capital grant projects below.
Located in downtown Annapolis, the Chase-Lloyd House was completed by noted colonial-era architect William Buckland in 1774. The house is associated with Samuel Chase, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, among other prominent figures in early Maryland and American history. For over 130 years the house served as an independent living facility for elderly women, but is now used as the headquarters for the facility operator, Chase Home, Inc. The grant supports the restoration of the large, Palladian window, a dominant feature visible from the entry hall, stairway, and surrounding garden of this three-story Georgian mansion. Named for Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, these three-part windows derived from classical forms and were often incorporated into the design of wealthy American homes in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The Charles H. Chipman Center is the oldest African American congregation and the first site for African Americans to hold religious services in the region during and after slavery, the first school for children of freed slaves in the region, and the first Delmarva high school for African American children after the Civil War. The original church dates to 1838 but has been enlarged and evolved stylistically to what you see today. The building currently serves as a cultural center and small museum focusing on African American heritage on Delmarva. The wood shingle roof of the building has reached the end of its useful life, so the capital grant funds will help replace the roof in-kind.
Established in 1898 to provide housing and education for boys in poverty, the Buckingham Industrial School for Boys includes a 6,300 square foot, hemlock-framed Pennsylvania Bank Barn. The barn represents a type of large agricultural outbuilding found throughout central and northern Maryland, and still retains its original pine siding, wood roof and interiors. These barns were generally built into the side of a small hill and have an earthen ramp which provides access to a second floor. Capital grant funds will help restore the barn’s doors and stone cheek walls and reconstruct the roof vents to match the original design. The barn will be used as a meeting space and for youth summer camp programming.
The Stone House at Elk Landing, built in 1782-83, is significant for its architecture and association with early Scandinavian and Finnish settlement in Maryland. Its simple fieldstone construction, center hall plan (although missing due to deterioration), and symmetrical massing are characteristic of late 18th-century vernacular dwellings in northeastern Maryland. The house includes a rare exterior-corner fireplace that is vented at the eaves (pictured below). More typical in Maryland is the other fireplace in the house, which are found back-to-back at interior corners and share a common chimney stack that exits at the roof ridge. The Historic Elk Landing Foundation currently operates the house for historical interpretation and fundraising activities, although limited due to its condition. Capital grant funds will help restore the stone fireplaces and exterior masonry work.
This property is best known as the long-time home of Parren J. Mitchell, a renowned professor, scholar, and Maryland’s first African American U.S. Congressman, serving from 1971-1987. A WWII veteran and Purple Heart recipient, Mitchell also helped found the Congressional Black Caucus. In 1950 he won a landmark legal case against the segregated University of Maryland to allow him admission into their graduate school. He became the first African American to graduate with a master’s degree from the University, and his case is considered instrumental in desegregation of higher education in Maryland. Capital grant funds will help complete an overall interior and exterior rehabilitation of the house, which has a planned use as a community and resource center.
Easton Armory, Talbot County ($90,000) | Sponsor: Waterfowl Festival Inc.
The imposing Easton Armory, also known as the Waterfowl Building, reflects the period when armories were built to resemble fortresses. Built in 1927, the building served as an armory and social space for the Easton community until it was acquired by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in 1976. Since 1997, the building has primarily served as administrative headquarters for Waterfowl Festival, Inc., providing space for staff, volunteers, storage, and is also used as an event space. Capital grant funds will help complete the rehabilitation of several original metal windows.
Hays House, Harford County ($50,000) | Sponsor: The Historical Society of Harford County, Inc.
Constructed ca.1788, the Hays House was originally owned by Thomas A. Hays, the cartographer of the earliest known map of the town. It is the oldest private residence in Bel Air, distinguished by its gambrel roof – the only one in town. The house has not been altered much over time; however, in 1960, preservation advocates moved it one block from its original site to save it from demolition. Hays House now serves as a house museum and the headquarters of the Historical Society of Harford County. The capital grant project will assist in restoring the north wall, which is severely deteriorated due to prolonged moisture issues.
***If you intend to apply for the FY2023 Historic Preservation Capital grant round, please join us for workshops and webinars this fall. Information will be posted on the program website and shared through our listserv and social media accounts. Online applications will be due in March 2023.
By Rebecca Morehouse, Curator of State Collections, Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab
In 1980, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funded a project to build townhouses in the block between what is now City Gate Lane and Dean Street in Annapolis. Excavation of the townhouse basements disturbed a portion of what was later identified as a 19th-century African American family cemetery. When archeologists at the Maryland Historical Trust heard of the discovery, they went to the site to rescue the human remains that had been exposed. They carefully mapped, photographed, and removed what turned out to be the partial remains of two individuals. In the event of this kind of inadvertent discovery, an archeologist’s priority is to identify what remains of the burials, document as much of the site as possible, and transfer any human remains to another location for protection. In the case of these two individuals, they were placed in the custody of MHT, and cared for at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab (MAC Lab) at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum (JPPM), a unit of MHT.
Little was known about these two individuals until research conducted by Janice Hayes-Williams in the early 2000s indicated their remains were likely removed from what had been the family cemetery of Smith Price. Price, formerly enslaved, came to Annapolis as a free man. He owned the property where an 1860s plat indicated his family cemetery was located, as well as the land where the Asbury United Methodist Church now stands less than a block away. Smith Price was a founding member of the African Meeting House in Annapolis, which eventually became the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1803, Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church in 1838, and then the Asbury United Methodist Church in 1968 (Figure 1).
While attending a meeting at the MAC Lab in April 2019, Janice Hayes-Williams asked me if the human remains from the Smith Price family cemetery were curated at the MAC Lab. When I told her they were, she asked if the remains could be returned to Annapolis and reburied there. A flurry of correspondence soon followed, as MHT staff worked with the Office of the Attorney General to chart a course for the permanent transfer of the remains that would satisfy State regulations.
The official request for transfer came from Asbury UMC in June 2019 and was quickly approved by the MHT Board of Trustees. The transfer took place on July 24, 2019 in a ceremony at Asbury UMC. In preparation for their trip to back to Annapolis, Janice Hayes-Williams wrapped the boxes which held the remains with Kente cloth and adorned them with sunflowers (Figure 2). I had the honor of assisting.
Once in the custody of the Asbury UMC, the church transferred the individuals to Dr. Julie Schablitsky, Chief Archaeologist at the Maryland State Highway Administration. Dr. Schablitsky took the lead on coordinating the analysis of the remains, which included a detailed examination and inventory by Dr. Dana Kollmann, Forensic Anthropologist at Towson University, and facial reconstruction by forensic artist Detective Eve Grant (Figure 3). Dr. Schablitsky also arranged for DNA testing at DNA Labs International in Florida. Unfortunately, the extracted DNA was degraded and, while the scientists are still trying, they have been unable to match it to living descendants.
Analysis by Dr. Kollmann showed that the remains belonged to a man and a child of African ancestry. The man likely died sometime in his late forties or early fifties. Associated coffin nails dated to the late 18th to early 19th centuries. Though no personal artifacts were recovered with the skeletal remains, blue-green discoloration on the man’s left wrist indicates the presence of a copper alloy burial shroud pin, button, or cufflink. His skeleton showed evidence that he was muscular and would have participated in heavy physical labor. He had a minor injury to his left shin, which, while not resulting in a break, would have been painful. He also had arthritis in his right arm and shoulder, which would have also caused significant pain and hindered his movements. His teeth had a well-defined pipe facet from carrying a tobacco pipe between his teeth on the right side of his mouth. The cause of the man’s death could not be determined.
The child, of unknown gender, likely died between the ages of 5 and 6 years. Copper alloy staining on the left temple suggests the child may have been wrapped in a burial shroud held in place with a copper alloy pin. The teeth show evidence of malnutrition or a significant illness, such as influenza. However, this did not contribute to the child’s death.
On November 1, 2019, Maryland’s Emancipation Day, following a community ceremony at Asbury UMC, these two individuals were laid to rest for a second time in St. Anne’s Cemetery in Annapolis (Figures 4 and 5).
While MHT does not encourage the excavation of human remains, there are times when burials are threatened and must be removed, as with the case of the Smith Price family cemetery. Today, unlike in 1980, immediate relocation or reburial of disturbed human remains is now the preferred course of action, rather than being placed in the care of the State. On the occasion that human remains do end up in MHT’s custody, they are placed in a specially designated area, known as an appropriate place of repose, apart from the State’s other collections. This area is only accessible by MHT staff and is not visible to the public.
I consider the care of these individuals a sacred responsibility and one of the most important duties I have as Curator. However, if I am given the opportunity to help facilitate the return and reburial of human remains in MHT’s custody, I am honored to do so. Being able to participate in the preparation of the human remains, as well as the transfer and reburial ceremonies, was an experience which I will not soon forget.
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 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.
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.
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.