Maryland State House at Annapolis

Introduction

The Maryland State House is the oldest state capitol still in continuous legislative use. Construction of the State House, which was designed by Joseph Horatio Anderson, was begun in 1772, delayed by the outbreak of the American Revolution, and completed in 1779. The present dome, which replaced an earlier cupola, was designed by the noted colonial architect Joseph Clark and was completed in 1794. It is the oldest and largest wooden dome of its kind in the United States.

The Maryland State House was the first peacetime capitol of the United States and is the only state house ever to have served as the nation's capitol. The Continental Congress met in the Old Senate Chamber from November 26, 1783, to August 13, 1784. During that time, General George Washington came before the Congress to resign his commission as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and the Treaty of Paris was ratified, marking the official end of the Revolutionary War.

SOURCE: Adapted from A Tour of the Maryland State House

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades K-4:

Topic 3: The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage 

Standard 4D: The student understands events that celebrate and exemplify fundamental values and principles of American democracy.

3-4: Describe the history of events, such as the signing of the Mayflower Compact and the Declaration of Independence, and the writing of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Emancipation Proclamation. [Demonstrate and explain the influence of ideas and beliefs] 

Standard 4E: The student understands national symbols through which American values and principles are expressed. 

K-4: Explain why important buildings, statues, and monuments are associated with state and national history, such as the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Angel Island, Mt. Rushmore, and veterans memorials. [Obtain historical data] 

Primary Resources

  1. DESCRIPTION: Plan of the Harbour and City of Annapolis with the Encampement of the Light Troops under Major General Marquis de Fayette's Command
    ALTERNATE TITLE: "The Frenchman's Map"
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1781
    NOTES: Shows buildings on State Circle
    SOURCE: Marion E. Warren Collection, MSA SC 1890-3254
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  2. DESCRIPTION: Laws of Maryland, CHAP. XIV. "An ACT for emitting bills of credit, and other purposes therein mentioned"
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1769
    NOTES: "A sum not exceeding 7,500 sterling is to be applied to the building of a new stadt-house at Annapolis, and go to the enlarging, repairing and enclosing, the parade. This house is to contain two rooms for the upper and lower houses of assembly, a room for the provincial court, two jury rooms, four committee rooms, and repositories of the records of the two houses, of the court of the chancery, the court of appeals, the provincial court, the perrogative court and the land office." The building is to be superintended by Daniel Dulany, Thomas Johnson, John Hall, William Paca, Charles Carroll, barrister, Lancelot Jacques, and Charles Wallace. Also, "upon completion, the house in which the council usually sits, and the conference chamber are to be vested in the justices of Anne-Arundel county. The County and the mayor's courts are to be held in the house, and the county records are to be kept in the chamber." Law also makes reference to King William's School. General Assembly (Laws) 1765-1786. Hanson's Laws. From the Archives of Maryland, Volume 203, pages 39-41
    SOURCE: Hanson's Laws of Maryland in Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  3. DESCRIPTION:  Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, From the Session lasting from 17 November until 20 December, 1769, p. 148, 149, 150, 151
    CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     
    NOTES: Superintendents in charge of construction of the new Stadt House appointed to build "good convenient Rooms for the upper and Lower Houses of Assembly and for holding the Provincial Court separate from each other two convenient Rooms for the use of Jurors attending the Provincial Court and four convenient Rooms for the use of Committees of the Lower House of Assembly. And also good convenient safe and secure Rooms for oOffices and Repositories of the Records of the Upper and Lower Houses of Assembly, High Court of Chancery, High Court of Appeals and Provincial Court Perogative Court and Land Office." Sum also appropriated for enlarging, repairing, and enclosing the Parade in the said city with flag or other stone or gravel, "and shall be inclosed with Iron Pallisades to be set up and fixed upon a good Stone or Brick Wall."
    SOURCE:  Archives of Maryland Online, Volume 62, pages 148-151.
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  4. DESCRIPTION: Governor Robert Eden lays first stone of the foundation of the Stadt House.
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: April 2, 1772
    SOURCE: Maryland Gazette Collection, MSA SC 2731
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives  

  5. DESCRIPTION: General Assembly meets for the first time in the House of Delegates Chamber at the start of the March 1779 Session
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: March 9, 1779
    SOURCE: Proceedings of the House of Delegates, March Session 1779, Archives of Maryland MSA SC M 3204, Page 81 in Early State Records Online
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  6. DESCRIPTION: A Front View of the State House etc. at Annapolis the Capital of Maryland
    ARTIST: Attributed to Charles Willson Peale
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: Published February 1789 in the Columbian Magazine
    NOTES: Drawing shows acorn and Franklin lightning rod.
    SOURCE: Thomas Bond Collection, MSA SC 194
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  7. DESCRIPTION: [Pen and ink drawings of the Maryland State House]
    ARTIST: Attributed to Charles Willson Peale
    SOURCE: William Voss Elder Collection, MSA SC 1051-1
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  8. DESCRIPTION: Bird's Eye View of Annapolis
    PUBLISHER: Edward Sachse (1804-1873)
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: ca. 1858
    SOURCE: 
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  9. DESCRIPTION: Maryland State House, State Circle, Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, MD
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1985-1986
    SOURCE: Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record
    REPOSITORY: Images from Library of Congress; originals also located at the Maryland State Archives

See also:

Selected Chronology

Buildings and Statues on State Circle

1696-1698: First State House at Annapolis is built, along with "several Posts ... to hang horses on," and a "Pissduit and House of Office [Privy] some where near the State House."

1699: State Circle is described as containing "a State House and a free school, built with brick, which makes a great shew among a Parcel of wooden houses..."

1704-1772: First State House burns in 1704, and a second State House referred to as the "Court House" because the Anne Arundel County Court meets there when the legislature is not is session, is built by 1707. Remains in use until demolished for the third State House ca. 1772.

1716-1718: A separate building is constructed on the north-east side of the second State House to serve as an Armory and meeting place for the Governor's Council and Upper House of the Legislature. In the early 19th century it is recalled as "a large hall, the walls covered with arms above the seats which were all around the room. A seat opposite the door for the Governor and his lady over which hung a full length portrait of Queen Anne. Nearly opposite to this picture hung another, a full length portrait of the Proprietor, Lord Baltimore, in his flowing robes. Being used for a ballroom as well as an armory, a wooden gilt chandelier depended from the vaulted roof and the lights interspersed among the arms, gave it on ball nights a very splendid appearance...." 

1729?-Present: A "Repository for the Old Records" is built between 1729, when the Legislature authorizes its construction and 1733, when it is recommended for use by the Commissioners for Emitting Bills of Credit as a Treasury. It is quite likely that the "Repository" and the Old Treasury Building still standing today on State Circle, which is recorded as being "built" by Patrick Creagh between 1735 and 1736 for the Commissioners, are the same structure. There is no evidence of a separate location for a record office on State Circle between 1729 and 1769 when the public records of the colony are known to be housed in the State House.

1769-1821: The old Armory/Council Chamber is given to Anne Arundel County as a Courthouse and serves as such until 1821, when a new Courthouse is built. Other uses are considered for the building after 1821, but it is judged beyond repair and torn down about 1836.

1769-Present: In 1769 the General Assembly appropriates 7,500 pounds sterling for a new State House. Between 1770 and 1772 the second State House is razed and on March 28, 1772, the cornerstone of the present State House is laid. Seven years later it is ready for the November session of the legislature and shortly thereafter, the other offices in the building, including four specially designed and fireproof Archives Rooms are open for business.

1785-1794: The original dome of the State House is removed and a new one erected. The exterior is complete by the summer of 1788. The interior carpentry and plaster work are finished in 1797.

1785?-1858: A new octagonal privy is built next to the State House about 1785 and remains in use until 1858, when it is demolished and new facilities are incorporated into the Record Office then under construction.

1834-1858: A gunhouse or cannon shed is built in 1834 only to be razed in 1858 to make way for the new Record [Land] Office.

1858-1902: "A substantial, thoroughly fireproof building, sufficiently spacious to serve for ages as a depository of the archives of the State" is begun in 1858 and completed by late 1859. Used as offices for the Comptroller, the Commissioner of the Land Office, and Board of Directors of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company, the Insurance Commissioner, the Tax Commissioner, and the State Fisheries Force, by 1902 it proves inadequate. It is demolished and replaced by a new office building just to the north of State Circle.

1858: The original semi-octagonal bay on the back of the State House is removed and replaced by a larger octagonal annex to accommodate the State Library. The House of Delegates Chamber is enlarged by 70% and two of the Archives rooms are converted to committee use.

1858-1876/8: A boiler room is erected to the north of the State House and remains in use until improvements are made to the State House in 1876/8.

1872: Statue of Roger Brook Taney (1777-1864), Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, is unveiled near the south portico of the State House.

1876-1878: Major alterations are made to the State House. Windows are changed. Both the Senate and House chambers are "modernized," including the removal of the historic gallery and fireplace in the Senate Chamber.

1886-1902: A rectangular building is built adjoining the State Library annex of 1858. Poorly constructed and subject of controversy, it is torn down in 1902 to make way for the present addition to the State House.

1886: Statue of Baron Johann De Kalb (1721-1780), Revolutionary War hero, is unveiled on the west side of the State House.

1902/1905-Present: The present addition to the State House containing the new House and Senate Chambers is built and the old Senate Chamber is restored to its appearance in the winter of 1783-1784 when Congress met there.

Additional Media Resources

The Maryland State House: Heart of Maryland History and Government. Prepared by the staff of the Maryland State Archives

Secondary Resources

Radoff, Morris. The State House at Annapolis. Annapolis: Hall of Records Commission, State of Maryland, 1972.

Radoff, Morris L. "Charles Wallace as Undertaker of the State House," Maryland Historical Magazine (March 1956): 50-53. 

Associated Heritage and Preservation Organizations

Maryland State House
State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401

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Credits

Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

This document packet was researched and developed by Nancy Bramucci.

 

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