Annapolis Architecture Guide

Annapolis has four salient features that make her exceptional among all other American towns. 1) The Baroque street plan designed by Colonial Governor Francis Nicholson in 1694 is unique. 2) The collection of unaltered grand eighteenth century buildings exceeds all other cities including Williamsburg Virginia. 3) The scale of the town is intimate and personal while it simultaneously strives for monumentality. 4) The town has been continuously occupied for over 300 years.

Annapolis was founded (built from scratch) in 1695 as the capitol of the Maryland Colony and designated an exclusive port of shipping and collection of the strict taxation of tobacco. Its “golden period” as the social and political center occurred from 1750 thru 1778, when the town was briefly the capitol of the new nation, and George Washington resigned his commission from the army and returned to private life, and to become the first president. Annapolis was home to some of the wealthiest families of the Colonies, and four signers of the Declaration of independence. It became eclipsed by Baltimore by 1800, but sustained itself by being the capital of the State, a center of Chesapeake Bay fisheries, home of St. John’s College, and in 1854 home of the U. S. Naval Academy. Because of the lack of economic development, there was little pressure to demolish or “improve” existing buildings. The “re-discovery” of Annapolis in the 1970s fortunately coincided with the emergence of the historic preservation movement. Annapolis is now a treasure trove of American architecture, with important 18th, 19th and 20th century buildings. In a 10 minute walk, one can see 7 grand mansions of the 1770’s, excellent examples from each decade of the 1800’s; Federal, Italianate, Queen Anne, Shavian, and second empire Victorian; buildings from the 20th century includes the American Beaux Arts Naval Academy by Earnest Flagg, mid century modernist Richard Neutra, sensitive and subtle contextual infill buildings and progressive restoration projects. Annapolis offers a decade by decade lesson in architectural history, from the early 1700’s to the early 2000’s.

Our Annapolis Architectural Guide describes the important buildings and how they fit into the history of American Architecture.  Our map is a useful tool to navigate a sometime confusing town sometimes hard to navigate. Our suggested walking tours suggest ways to see these important buildings within the context of the extraordinary Baroque town plan.

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Brice House

Chase-Lloyd House

St. Anne's

McDowell Hall