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James Brice and His House

Glenn E. Campbell, Senior Historian

Monday, December 11

James Brice (1746-1801) was the second-oldest surviving son among the thirteen children born to Judge John Brice II and Sarah Frisby Brice.  When Judge Brice died in 1766, his will left James property in Cecil County and lots 94 and 103 in Annapolis, along with construction materials he had started gathering to build a new house on that site at the corner of Prince George and East Streets.

James Brice took charge of the land and materials passed down by his father.  He hired laborers to dig the foundation for a massive five-part Georgian mansion and began recording the details of his ambitious project in a ledger book that is now in the collection of the Maryland State Archives.  On April 14, 1767―250 years ago this past spring—Brice wrote that he spent 27 shillings 6 pence for “Rum at laying Corner Stone.”  When construction work wrapped up in 1774, he had one of the most impressive homes in colonial Annapolis. 

As a gentlemen planter and respectable lawyer with a fine new town house and patriotic political principles, James Brice was well-positioned to take on important leadership roles during the revolutionary era.  He commanded town and county militiamen during the war, served as Annapolis’s mayor for two terms, and deliberated as a longtime member of the governor’s Executive Council.

The State of Maryland bought the James Brice House in 2014 and arranged for Historic Annapolis to maintain and manage the National Historic Landmark property.  Working in partnership with the Maryland Historical Trust, Historic Annapolis began restoring the house in 2016.  We’ll be sharing periodic updates on this exciting project through this blog—please check back on our progress!

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