Today Historic Annapolis (HA) and Robert C. Clark, Executive Chairman and former President, announced that he will retire from the organization at the end of October. After a decade of service to HA, Clark was succeeded as President in June by Karen Theimer Brown, at which time he became Executive Chairman, focusing his attention on several ongoing development projects. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my tenure as President of Historic Annapolis and I am proud of what we’ve accomplished under my leadership,” said Clark. “I have often said that one of my strengths is my ability to hire great staff. It is my belief that HA is now in good hands with Karen and her colleagues.”
When Clark accepted the offer to lead HA in 2012, he set bold goals and objectives for himself, the Board, and his staff. Since then, his successes are many, beginning with initiating and leading the strategic planning process that resulted in HA’s ten-year strategic plan. Early in his tenure he worked with the board to oversee HA’s rebranding and the subsequent phenomenal success of now-signature HA fundraising events, including “Blazers. Bourbon. Cigars.” Additionally, HA was reaccredited by the American Alliance of Museums and became a Smithsonian Affiliate in 2016, one of only six such affiliates in the State of Maryland and of two hundred in the country.
In 2016, Clark was instrumental in establishing the partnership with the State of Maryland and others to restore the James Brice House to its original design when construction was completed in 1774. Over the past six years, he has served as the leading champion of the organization in securing over $12 million in state and private funds to support the restoration. This project is anticipated to be completed in time for the nation’s celebration of the semiquincentennial in 2026.
Clark’s visionary pursuits also include the future redevelopment of 1 Martin Street as an education venue and meeting space, which would effectively create an “historic park” of State assets. He has also advocated for a city-wide visitor pass that builds on the “museum without walls” concept to create a unique heritage tourism experience.
Preservation advocacy is a critical component of HA’s mission, and under Robert’s direction HA has served as a forceful leader in protecting the integrity of the historic district. When a zoning change was introduced in early 2018 that would have adversely affected Annapolis’s historic downtown City Dock, HA served as the leading voice and local advocate for the retention of the existing height and bulk ordinance and subsequently funding an Urban Land Institute Technical Assistance Panel to help plan for the future of City Dock. This effort kicked off a year-long partnership between the City of Annapolis and HA, with the goal of creating a vision for a reimagined city dock within a preservation-based context. When completed, the City Dock redevelopment and infrastructure improvement project will address the parking and resiliency challenges in downtown Annapolis and create a park-like environment on the waterfront. Clark worked cooperatively with City leadership and local partners to advance this dialogue and establish relationships that are key to the success of our local economy.
As President, Clark was the recipient of a prestigious Annie Award in 2017 from the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County for Historic Arts and a Maryland Preservation Award for Outstanding Organizational Leadership on the Local Level through the Maryland Historical Trust in 2019. He served on multiple boards and committees, including the Annapolis Heritage Commission and Friends of St. Johns College.
“Robert is a great steward of our city’s historic places, and he has worked tirelessly to broaden Historic Annapolis’ relevance to our city’s future,” says Jim Reid, Chairman, Board of Trustees. “He has made a lasting, significant, and inspiring contribution to our organization.”
Clark has announced that though his tenure with HA will close on October 31, he will continue his unwavering support for the organization. He believes the time is right to secure more flexibility for travel and family. “This summer I had the good fortune to travel with my extended family to visit several historic sites across the country. I look forward to more heritage travel experiences and time with my grandchildren.”