Annapolis "Harbor to Hill" Walking Tour

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1. Start:
Start at the city dock at the foot of Main Street. It is the deep natural harbor that attracted Francis Nicholson to establish Annapolis. Look directly up Main Street to St. Anne’s Church steeple and see the State House Dome to the right. These buildings occupy Church Circle and State Circle, two circular streets that Nicholson created on top of the two highest hills. (Our Annapolis Architecture Guide - AAG - article Main Street 1790 and 1970 features 99 Main Street on your left.) Walk up Main Street toward the Church. The street narrows as it goes up the gentle incline which was the only cart path from the Harbor to all the lands beyond. 

2. Pause at the foot of Francis street and look up to the State House, here you can see both hill tops from one vantage point. Note that the front door of the State House is not on center with the street, one example of the imperfection of Annapolis.

3. Continue up Main Street on the left sidewalk, at about #206, look right thru the pedestrian alley for a picturesque view of the State House Dome. Annapolis has a number of pedestrian alleys that allow for a quick shortcut across town. Also notice the brick Greek Revival 1835 at #206.

4. Proceed toward the Church and use the crosswalk to the sidewalk around Church, go clockwise to the left. The 1825 Courthouse (ahead but across the street) is a handsome Federal style building. Continue on the sidewalk until you are at the front of the Church (AAG article St. Anne's Church). Look out West Street, which was the continuation of the cart path from the harbor to all points west, Virginia and Philadelphia, the land route to all the other colonies.

St. Anne's Church

5. Cross over Church Circle at West Street, and continue clockwise on the sidewalk to the 1901 U.S. Post Office (AAG article Post Office). Continue straight, you leave Church Circle, and enter College Avenue.

Post Office

6. On the left is the 1938 James Office Building designed by Baltimore architect Ernest Fowler, it is an excellent example of sympathetic contextual design, beautifully proportioned, and in contrast to the 1980’s ugly “neo-georgian” State office buildings ahead. Take the next right crosswalk across College Ave, directly toward the State House. 

7. The monumental stairs and State House addition of 1902 were designed by the Baltimore architectural firm of Baldwin and Pennington, also an extremely successful contextual building. Take the monumental stairs up into the hall between the beautiful Senate and House Chambers, and continue into the 1770 State House rotunda and look up into the oldest dome in America. (AAG article on the State House will follow in 2014.) Look at the newly restored rooms flanking the rotunda and exit through the original front door (this door may be secured, make your way around if necessary) to the south porch, and look back down Francis Street to Main Street.

State House Dome

8. To the right is a quaint two room frame Greek Revival “Law Office” with irregular wall angles that follow the irregular property lines. Look to the left (east) and see a cannon aimed right down East Street. Take the sidewalk and steps down to East Street and walk two blocks to Prince George Street. 

9. On the far left corner is the magnificent James Brice House of 1775. (AAG article James Brice House). (Left on Prince George Street goes to McDowell Hall at St. John’s College, right goes down to the harbor). Continue on East Street 2 blocks to the end to Naval Academy Gate #1.

Brice House

10. This is the end of walking Tour #1. You have seen the two hilltop circle streets, and some of their radiating streets devised by Francis Nicholson. You have experienced the most dramatic topography of the town, and just started to see the some of the spectacular mansions of the 1770s. You can go right on Randall Street back to the start of this tour at the City Dock, or you can walk left on King George Street, then right on Maryland Avenue to Naval Academy Gate #3. Both destinations are only 2 blocks.