MHT File Photo
Annapolis Historic District
Annapolis, Anne Arundel County
The Annapolis Historic District covers the oldest or core section of Annapolis around which the city developed and the residential areas that developed in the early 20th century. The district is characterized by a Baroque street plan of circles and diagonal streets superimposed on a terrain that rises to the northwest from the harbor at Spa Creek. A more structured grid-iron plan exists in the western section. Standing prominently on the highest point in the city overlooking the harbor is the Maryland State House, an 18th century brick structure with a very large wooden polygonal dome. A primarily commercial region surrounds the harbor, extends northwest along Main Street and out West Street from Church Circle. Another primarily commercial area is along Maryland Avenue between State Circle and the middle of the block formed by Prince George and King Streets. Government buildings stand near the State House, primarily to the northwest of State Circle. The St. John’s College campus is located in the northwest corner of the district between College Creek and College Avenue. The remaining sections of the district are primarily residential with educational, religious, commercial, and civic structures scattered throughout. The buildings within the district are of various types, materials, stylistic influences, proportions, and positions in the streetscape resulting from construction or remodeling and date primarily from the 17th century through the first third of the 20th century.
The Annapolis Historic District is significant on three levels, with each level reflected by buildings which span nearly three centuries of the town’s existence. On the national level, Annapolis served as the nation’s capital between November 1783 and August 1784, during which time the Continental Congress, meeting in the State House, ratified the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War and accepted the resignation of George Washington as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. The State House was also the site of the Annapolis Convention in 1786, which led to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia one year later. Within Annapolis are the homes of Samuel Chase, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, William Paca, and Thomas Stone, all four signers of the Declaration of Independence from Maryland. Unlike other important colonial capitals such as Boston and Philadelphia, the basic features of 18th century Annapolis, including the unique Baroque street plan and several outstanding examples of high Georgian architecture still survive. Significance on the state level is derived from the fact that Annapolis has served since 1694 as the capital of Maryland and has therefore been the center of political activity in the state. On the local level Annapolis is significant as the seat of Anne Arundel County as well as an important economic center of the upper Chesapeake Bay region. Architecturally, Annapolis is tied into a significant and distinguishable unit by the buildings which represent various styles and periods of construction and which record the growth and development of Maryland’s capital city from its founding to the present.