Journey Through Maryland History: Anne Arundel for a Capital Christmas

12/30/2016
By Preservation Maryland

If you follow our blog, you may remember that the Preservation Maryland Board Vice President Diane Caslow has a goal to travel to all of Maryland’s 24 counties in the next 24 months. And her adventure continues with a visit to Annapolis for a capital Christmas.

A Capital Christmas in Anne Arundel County & Annapolis

Our third county on our 24 month adventure to explore each of the counties in Maryland was Anne Arundel County. We got a late start as the freak snow and ice storm hit the area, but provided us with a rather quiet afternoon in Annapolis before the crowds came for a festive Saturday night. Our theme was obvious for December: exploring some holiday traditions, adapting new ones and uncovering hidden treasures in Annapolis.  The nice thing about Annapolis was that we parked for the day and walked everywhere.

Map of downtown Annapolis, ca. 1878

Map of downtown Annapolis, ca. 1878

Naturally, our first stop was the Maryland State House, the oldest state house in continuous legislative use.  A self-guided tour led us to the Old Senate Chamber, beautifully restored, where George Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in 1783; almost 233 years to the day of our visit.  However, the best surprise for us was the main hall, where each county had decorated a Christmas tree, and one wreath!  We admired each one of them and their unique decorations.

Maryland's restored Old Senate Chamber

Maryland’s restored Old Senate Chamber

We wandered onto the St. John’s College campus, which began as the King William School in 1696, and is the third oldest college in America. Known for its’ croquette match in the spring against the Naval Academy, it was quiet as students were gone for winter break. We then walked down Maryland Avenue to the Hammond Harwood House, and stopped at shops along the way. We find ourselves drawn to bookstores and coffee shops.

I appreciate preservation in two ways, one to see what things were like during the period that is being preserved, and two, the adaptive reuse of buildings, breathing new life into them by new owners. We found both on Maryland Avenue. We lingered at Old Fox Books – a nickname for George Washington – and got a taste of Brown Mustache Coffee, officially opening inside the bookstore on January 2, 2017.

Early 20th century view of the Hammond Harwood House

Early 20th century view of the Hammond Harwood House

We got to the Hammond-Harwood House just as it was near closing time, so we were the only ones on the house tour. As the sun went down, the docent told the story of the house and we could feel the history of the place come alive. We marveled at how each room was used in the customs of the day. Women kept their faces cool, so as not to be seen perspiring, while warming the rest of their bodies using standing screens that could move up and down- colonial vanity at work.  We found the houses of three of the four Maryland signers of the Declaration of Independence as we walked through the neighborhood and just missed a recitation of the Christmas Carol at the William Paca House operated by Historic Annapolis.

Reynold's Tavern, Annapolis. Courtesy Flickr user Auvet.

Reynold’s Tavern, Annapolis. Courtesy Flickr user Auvet.

Adapting an idea that was popular with my parent’s generation, a progressive dinner party, we finished our day with our own version at the three oldest taverns in Annapolis. Beginning with Reynolds Tavern, in the 1747 Pub, which was the original kitchen and hat shop of William Reynolds, we had cocktails and appetizers by the fire. We then headed down the street to a festive

Diane and Jeff Caslow, on tour in Annapolis.

Diane and Jeff Caslow, on tour in Annapolis.

Middleton Tavern, circa 1750, for the main course of crab soup, crab cakes and oyster poppers. We had desert at Treaty of Paris, part of the Maryland Inn, built in 1784. We saw a sign for hot buttered rum at a new place, Preserve – how fitting for our adventure!

As we are wearing our Preservation Maryland hats, and tend to be a chatty pair, we are talking to people along the way. So far, we have piqued interest in our adventure and get the sense that others think it is a pretty cool idea.

Next month is Wicomico County – A Victorian Winter’s Day

COUNTY-BY-COUNTY INSTALLMENTS

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