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.

1952
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.

1953
The organization began developing educational programs to encourage appreciation of the city’s historical, architectural, and cultural assets.

1955
First major project raised funds to move Charles Carroll Barrister House to the campus of St. John’s College to save it from destruction.

1957
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.)

1959
Historic Annapolis undertook the first of three comprehensive architectural surveys to identify and call attention to the scope of the city’s architectural assets.

1960
The organization’s research center was initiated.

1963
A Revolving Fund was begun. Over the years this fund supported purchase and renovation of many historic structures.

1965
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.

1967
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.

1969
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.

1972
Historic Annapolis was instrumental in getting fourteen buildings on State Circle a reprieve from proposed demolition.

1973
The William Paca Garden opened to the public following years of restoration.

1976
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.

1980
Historic Annapolis's museum and public programs were accredited by the American Association of Museums.

1981
Historic Annapolis trademarked “Annapolis: A Museum Without Walls.”

1982
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.

1988
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.

1991
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.

1992
Historic Annapolis presented its first annual Annapolis by Candlelight tour of historic homes, launching one of the city’s most popular events.

1994
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.

1995
Following intense lobbying by Historic Annapolis, Main Street was reconstructed with brick pavement, and power and telephone lines are placed underground.

2002
Historic Annapolis celebrated its 50th Anniversary.

2004
Historic Annapolis conducted groundbreaking for HistoryQuest at 99 Main Street, now the Historic Annapolis Museum at the St. Clair Wright Center.