Anne Arundel County Free School
1298, Lavall Drive, Davidsonville, Anne Arundel County
Archeological work completed in 1978 indicates that the Anne Arundel County Free School building was built somewhere between its contractual date of 1724 and 1746 when it was under full operation with John Wilmot as schoolmaster. The existing abandoned building is 49' x 18', consisting of six rooms on two floors. The first floor contains two rooms with ceilings 10' high, and the remains of a wood shed. The second floor consists of three rooms, a den, and a bathroom. The first floor walls consists of two distinct styles of construction occurring in two joined sections, both utilizing local brown sandstone. The first is a smooth, square-cut section measuring 18' x 25' laid in coursed ashlar, and the second is a rough uncut stone section measuring 18' x 24' laid in fine-ground oyster bonding. In the mid 19th century, the building was raised to two stories. This frame portion was covered with shingles sometime between 1915 and 1934 according to a former resident. The second floor was removed when the building was restored. Subsurface testing revealed the remains of a stone wall foundation connecting the smooth-stone sections and would provide the fourth wall for a separate structure mentioned in a 1724 document. The building is believed to have been altered on five separate occasions, once due to fire damage. As it now appears, the one-story stone building faces south, with a seven bay facade. The five bays to the west are the original portion of the building, with a central entrance flanked by two 9/6 sash windows to either side. To the east gable end of this has been restored a two-bay addition. A flush chimney rises from each gable end of the original section, and shed-roofed dormers are ranged across the roof. Little original fabric remains on the interior. However, the windows in one section are believed to be original, and several glass panes date to the early 19th century.
The first Free School of Anne Arrundell County was established by an Act of the General Assembly of colonial Maryland in 1723. From advertisements in the Maryland Gazette, it is known that a John Wilmot was teaching at the Free School in Anne Arrundell County in 1746, and remained until 1763 at which time another ad appeared for a new schoolmaster. The Free School remained in operation until 1912 when the movement toward consolidation forced the closure of many early school buildings. It is the only surviving schoolhouse erected in Maryland in response to the Maryland Free School Act of 1723.