Ronald L. Andrews
Maryland State House
State Circle, , Annapolis, , Anne Arundel County
Architecturally, the Maryland State House is a severe brick structure topped by a tall octagonal dome and cupola. The main entrance facing the east, is protected by a one-story pedimented Corinthian portico with marble floor, four wooden columns, iron capitals, cast iron railing, and decorated with a modillion cornice and raking cornice in the pediment. This portico appears to be a later addition. The portal opens into a wide arched hall of similar classic order under the central dome, which has arched and oval windows and delicate plaster ornament in the Adam style, completed in 1793. Windows, with splayed jack arches, are 12/12 sash, with four on either side of a central three-bay projection, making the building 11 bays wide on the east façade. The building is ornamented with a heavy modillioned cornice and a central pediment with an oval window on the east side. The large octagonal dome rises from the center of the hip roof, which has a balustraded deck on the west side. The dome itself features modillioned and dentiled cornices, traceried oval windows in the octagonal portion, a balustrade above the dome, surmounted by a two-level octagonal cupola with 3/3 sash windows on the lower portion and louvered shutters covering windows on the second portion, each surmounted by a three-light fanlight. At the very top of the dome is an acorn-shaped finial. The west portion of the building, added in the early 20th century, features a massive 2 1/2-story portico supported by six columns. This side of the building is 13 bays wide, with four bays on either side flanking the portico, which covers five interior bays. A central pedimented entrance within the portico is flanked by pedimented windows on the first floor. The second floor has five windows, the central three of which are grouped slightly together. Over the entrance to the Old Senate Chamber is a curved balustraded spectators gallery, supported by fluted Ionic columns. Facing the entrance is the circular speaker’s platform. Typical of late Georgian Colonial design are the 12/12 sash windows with deep paneled reveals, window seats, and inner shutters, and the classically trimmed fireplace. Opposite the Senate Chamber is the Old Hall of Delegates, next to which is the present Historic and Flag Room, used for exhibit purposes.
Several historically significant events occurred in the Maryland State House, which now houses the offices of the governor, secretary of state, and attorney general of Maryland, as well as the State legislature. For nine months the State House was the seat of the Continental Congress while it acted as Revolutionary government. Here the Continental Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris on January 14, 1784, formally ending the Revolutionary War. Here Washington officially resigned as Commander-in-Chief. In September, 1786, the Annapolis Convention entertained a resolution from which grew the convention that drew up the Constitution. This late Georgian style building is the oldest state house in the United States still in use.