Historic Annapolis Foundation

Annapolis: A Museum Without Walls

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Historic Annapolis grew out of a grass-roots effort to preserve the city’s outstanding architectural legacy. Since its inception in 1952, our organization has been instrumental in saving nearly 400 historic buildings in the heart of the city. We have also helped to block construction that would have marred the city’s special character and charm. Annapolis is now a revitalization success story in which preservation of the city’s historical identity has contributed to a thriving economy and a high quality of life.

For more than half a century, Historic Annapolis has also researched, chronicled, and interpreted the many facets of the Annapolis’s history. We’ve collected documents and artifacts that embody that history. And we’ve made that history accessible and enjoyable through a wide range of educational events, venues, and media.

More than a Half-Century of Service to the Annapolis Community

This timeline highlights only a few of the key preservation initiatives in which Historic Annapolis has played a major role, and only a sampling of the educational programs we have launched. For more information, please contact us.

Historic Annapolis, Inc. (later renamed Historic Annapolis Foundation, now Historic Annapolis) was formed when concerned citizens spearheaded efforts to safeguard the city's historic structures and character.

The organization began developing educational programs to encourage appreciation of the city’s historical, architectural, and cultural assets.

First major project raised funds to move Charles Carroll Barrister House to the campus of St. John’s College to save it from destruction.

When Shiplap House, one of the city’s earliest buildings, was threatened with demolition, Historic Annapolis purchased it. (The building now houses our administrative offices.)

Historic Annapolis undertook the first of three comprehensive architectural surveys to identify and call attention to the scope of the city’s architectural assets.

The organization’s research center was initiated.

A Revolving Fund was begun. Over the years this fund supported purchase and renovation of many historic structures.

Historic Annapolis raised approximately $250,000 and persuaded the State of Maryland to help acquire the mid-18th-century William Paca House—then barely recognizable at the core of the outmoded Carvel Hall Hotel. Research and restoration began.

The Historic District of Annapolis was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark.

Historic Annapolis launched its Historic Building Marker program.

The organization also began a walking tour program—which was later developed into the "Historic Annapolis Walk" audio tour narrated by Walter Cronkite.

In collaboration with Friends of the Market, Historic Annapolis mounted public support needed to rescue the 1858 Market House at City Dock from plans for demolition for a parking facility.

The effort also mobilized support needed to approve the Historic District Ordinance, granting greater protections for historic structures.

Historic Annapolis was instrumental in getting fourteen buildings on State Circle a reprieve from proposed demolition.

The William Paca Garden opened to the public following years of restoration.

The restored William Paca House opened to the public in time for the nation’s Bicentennial celebration. The House and Garden were designated a National Historic Landmark.

Historic Annapolis's museum and public programs were accredited by the American Association of Museums.

Historic Annapolis trademarked “Annapolis: A Museum Without Walls.”

Archaeology in Annapolis, a program cosponsored with the University of Maryland’s Department of Anthropology, excavated the first of many sites (at Reynolds Tavern and Jonas Green House).

The first of many annual Historic Hikes was offered.

After lengthy negotiations, Historic Annapolis achieved adherence to height regulations in the construction of a parking garage in the historic district—a milestone in the city’s preservation history.

Discoveries made by the Archaeology in Annapolis program at the Maynard-Burgess House and Charles Carroll House revealed much about African-Americans in Annapolis and attracted national media attention.

Historic Annapolis presented its first annual Annapolis by Candlelight tour of historic homes, launching one of the city’s most popular events.

The successful advocacy of Historic Annapolis and the Historic Preservation Commission resulted in restoration of the 19th-century Anne Arundel County Courthouse on Church Circle as the entrance to a new court facility.

Following intense lobbying by Historic Annapolis, Main Street was reconstructed with brick pavement, and power and telephone lines are placed underground.

Historic Annapolis celebrated its 50th Anniversary.

Historic Annapolis conducted groundbreaking for HistoryQuest at 99 Main Street, now the Historic Annapolis Museum at the St. Clair Wright Center.