By Will A. Davis
The nineteenth century poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote this famous line in his poem “The Rainy Day“….“Into each life a little rain must fall”. Well if you are visiting historic Annapolis on the coast of Maryland whether on vacation or a day trip there are plenty of things to do day and night when it is raining on your parade. Of course the obvious thing might be a leisurely lunch or dinner (or both) at one of the many fine restaurants located within the area.
Let me suggest a rainy day should turn into museum day. Why not save window shopping and all of the water activities available in Annapolis like kayaking and canoeing, sailing and or taking a harbor ride on one of the many day cruise vessels available for the next sunny day?
The best way to find out which museums you might want to explore is to first stop at the Historic Annapolis Museum located in the St. Clair Wright Center at 99 Main Street near the City Dock area. Here you will find all the information you need to stay out of the rain. (And yes you can take a walking/audio tour with umbrellas and a guide if that be your choice mate!). Inside is an ongoing and changing exhibit of the history of the city of Annapolis including a 1819 scale model of the city, time line and other historic artifacts, life size cutouts of famous Americans such as George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Mark Twain, Michelle Obama, Sarah Jessica Parker and others who have visited Annapolis. Why not see if you measure up? The second and third floors of the museum will house changing exhibits of the history of Annapolis as well as featuring the work of pioneers in Annapolis history to include the colonial era, plus changing exhibits by artisans, craftsman, historic collections and inventors whose contributions helped to define and relate Annapolis’s four hundred year old storied history.
Here you can buy tickets for some of the many historic house tours such as the 1763 Georgian style William Paca House, built for Paca who was a signatory of the Declaration of Independence and three time governor of Maryland. The Charles Carroll House was the home of another signatory of the Declaration of Independence. The Carroll family was one of the wealthiest in Maryland but their Catholic religion worked against them and they constantly fought for religious freedom. The Hammond- Harman House and the Banneker -Douglass museum named after Benjamin Banneker and Frederick Douglass well known black activists of the nineteenth century. The building, almost raised but then saved by preservation supporters, is a wonderful gothic roofed church and served as the former home of the Mt Moriah AME congregation built by free blacks in 1874. There is a free tour of this church museum dedicated to Maryland’s African- American history and it is also the repository of African -American information for the state. Brochures and maps are available and a gift shop in the museum offers take away memorabilia of your trip.
The tour of the Hammond-Harman House is an interesting story of family, architecture, and history. The five part Anglo-Palladian style home was built for Mathias Hammond a wealthy planter in 1774 who also was an activist for the colonial movement for independence from England. Strangely enough Hammond never lived in the house and it was eventually rented out to many famous Annapolitonians including Charles Pinckney another signatory of the Declaration of Independence. The architect of the house was William Buckland who designed many famous colonial homes including Gunston Hall in Virginia, home of George Mason of whom Buckland was at one time an indentured servant! His work is also present in Annapolis at the Chase-Lloyd House. Generations down the road a descendent of Buckland would marry into the Harwood family, hence the latter part of the house name. Inside are some of the most famous examples of woodcarving and plaster work in America as well as fine arts and furniture. Well worth a rainy or any day visit!
You can of course if all else fails or it be your pleasure, browse and shop the many fine and interesting diverse shops in town. Antiques, souvenir, apparel, crafts and sporting goods purveyors feature friendly folks and excellent service items.
Please check these websites for further information.
William Paca House and Gardens www.charlescarrollhouse.com Charles Carroll House www.hammondharwoodhouse.org
Hammond_Harwood House http://www.bdmuseum.com Banneker Douglass House