Storrie Kulynych-Irvin: Work as a summer intern at Historic Annapolis was a unique experience
Date: Capital Gazette, September 15, 2018, Storrie Kulynych-Irvin
One hundred years ago, a carpenter finished the final post of the staircase in the brand new foursquare on Franklin Street. Before the newel cap was secured, the carpenter placed house plans in the stair post’s hollow center.
Generations later, my family will move to this house, and we are lucky enough to discover the plans. Throughout our renovation, this first blueprint served as a reminder of the original design, even as additions and updates brought my family’s home into the 21st century.
It’s easy to imagine how architectural diagrams and historical photos could have helped us once again as we moved and began restoring a 1929 Colonial Revival around the corner. Wouldn’t many people who live in or visit the Historic District want to see first hand how our architectural history has unfolded?
Thanks to some grant funding and the efforts of staff and volunteers at the Historic Annapolis Foundation, you’ll be able to do just that!
Whether you’re a historian, preservationist, homeowner, student or just fascinated by the growth of Annapolis over the centuries, you’ll want to check out a new HA resource in the works called HistoryIT. I spent part of my summer helping to prepare this project and have seen firsthand its potential to contribute to the community.
Having received a grant to digitize its photographic archives — an eclectic mix of personal collections, survey images, 19th-century snapshots, architectural sketches and more — Historic Annapolis will combine them in a single on-line site that will be available to the public.
It’s likely that the city’s Historic Preservation Commission approval process will become more efficient and objective following the launch of HistoryIT. A searchable record will reveal alterations to structures and streetscapes over the years.
A 1970s-era photo of the John Callahan house carefully making its way down Main Street was a poignant example of the winds of change in the historic district, as one of several images of original buildings being moved or replaced by modern structures.
As the last stretch of summer came to an end, students are getting back to learning and Annapolitans are looking for interesting outside activities, having perhaps tired of typical summer fun.
In addition to developing this necessary new online resource, Historic Annapolis has been hard at work to showcase its historic homes and more recent exhibits.
While the fully restored William Paca House and Gardens has served as the cornerstone of HA activities for decades, the James Brice House — the former dwelling of another Maryland governor — is in the midst of an exciting renewal of its former Georgian glory.
You can don a hard hat and join one of the public tours taking place this autumn to get an in-person look at the interior renovation of this National Historic Landmark, guided by the meticulous accounts discovered in Brice’s 300-year-old ledger.
The elaborate brickwork — all-header on the main house, and Flemish bond for the hyphens — and the stately molding of cornices and mantelpieces are my favorite architectural elements; I’m also intrigued by the discovery of hoodoo caches behind the walls of the slaves’ quarters.
These grand Colonial residences are hardly the only examples of distinctive architecture in the city, and the Historic Annapolis Foundation, with its knowledgeable staff of preservationists, historians, architects and volunteers, is the place to learn about them all.
As an HA intern, I’ve had the privilege of training to be a Paca House docent, touring the Brice restoration and putting the finishing touches on HistoryIT.
Despite living in the Historic District, I knew very little about our town’s architectural past before I began working at HA this summer. I encourage all interested residents, young and old, to get involved in HA’s new initiatives, support HA with your donations and explore whatever aspect of Annapolis’s colorful past fascinates you.
Storrie Kulynych-Irvin is a 13-year-old Annapolitan and intern at Historic Annapolis Foundation.
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