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A Message From Our President: Preservation is Climate Action


Recently, a local asked, why does Historic Annapolis care about resiliency? This was a surprising question to us, but if the same one has crossed your mind, here is our answer: preservation is climate action. The inverse is also true. Protection of the heart of our local and National Historic Landmark district – City Dock – depends on resiliency infrastructure in the form of flood barrier protection and other means. Annapolis is a low-lying, historic, and vulnerable coastal city. Nuisance flooding caused by rainfall – like we have experienced this week – and more extreme weather, tidal surges and rising sea level are part of our reality in the 21st century.

This is why HA is an enthusiastic supporter of the resiliency core of the City Dock project. We have consistently voiced this support on the occasions when public comment was allowed. It’s true that we have questions about the completeness of the plan; concern about the true costs for implementation and maintenance; and other pertinent issues raised by our members and the community. These are questions and concerns the City and project team have a responsibility to address. Our organization’s support of resiliency as the end goal, however, is unequivocal. Resiliency at the water’s edge is essential for the future preservation of Annapolis.

The relationship between preservation and resiliency – and sustainability – is not new. You may have heard the saying, “the greenest building is the one already built.” Take HA’s headquarters at the Shiplap House, 18 Pinkney Street. For 311 years, it has been a poster child for adaptive reuse: tavern, residence, artist’s studio, office. The links between preservation and environmentalism are becoming stronger and more blatant. This week, for example, HA staff is participating in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s online symposium on Climate Change and Buildings and Climate Action in Practice. We aim to be the local advocate for and partner in ensuring that there is a recognizable and healthy Annapolis in another 375 years.

As such, we’ve been heavily involved in the reimaging of City Dock for over a decade. The first quarter of 2024 has been a particularly busy one with the local review and approval of the first phase of the City Dock project, marking progress in this effort. The park and resiliency part of the plan (Project 1) has made it through the Planning Commission and last week was conditionally approved by the Historic Preservation Commission. If you missed any of these hearings, the City’s Boards and Commissions channel on YouTube makes it easy to catch up. You can watch the March 28, 2024 Historic Preservation Commission meeting here, during which I testified on behalf of HA.

We expect the next phase of Project 1 review and approval to be at the state level via the Maryland Historical Trust and at the federal level through FEMA. The new Maritime Welcome Center – theoretically an addition to the historic Burtis House – is anticipated in the next phase. We continue to have concerns about the potential visual impact of the city’s preferred placement of this structure at the water’s edge. Would it be a permanent obstruction of the view and ostensibly negate any benefit or improvement gained from the first phase of the landscape plan?

We will continue to keep you posted on advancements at City Dock. In the meantime, we want to hear from you. Community planning is greatly enhanced with public input, and after all, this is a public project – the largest in Annapolis history. You can email Rachel Robinson, our Vice President of Preservation, at with your thoughts and concerns.

Thank you. Through your support of HA, you are our partner in safeguarding Annapolis for future generations.