The acorn has come home to Annapolis.
This fall, Historic Annapolis will open a new permanent exhibition, Annapolis: An American Story, at the Historic Annapolis Museum. One artifact featured in this groundbreaking exhibit is an iconic symbol of Maryland’s state capital – the original decorative acorn from atop the Maryland State House dome.
Constructed more than 230 years ago of cypress harvested on the Eastern Shore, the architectural flourish, weighing in at around 800 pounds at the time, was installed 180 feet above the ground atop the State House dome in 1788.
Over the next two centuries, it would stay there as the anchor for the world’s largest Franklin lightning rod as well as a symbol of wisdom and good judgment. Then, in 1996, it was removed by helicopter after researchers using gamma-rays determined water seepage had rotted the interior. A replacement, made from wood slices contributed by craftspeople across Maryland, was installed that fall.
The original acorn disappeared from the public eye, taken to the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory for conservation and study. Robert Clark, President and CEO of Historic Annapolis, learned about the location of the acorn and consulted with the staff of the Maryland State Archives and the Maryland Historical Trust to secure a loan for the exhibit. Annapolis: An American Story will open for a preview period this winter beginning November 28, 2021. A grand opening celebration is set for Maryland Day weekend in 2022.
The acorn, fitting narrowly through the front entrance to the museum, was installed on Friday, November 12 at the Historic Annapolis Museum at 99 Main Street.
“Historic Annapolis is thrilled to see the original State House acorn return to Annapolis and excited to share its story in our new exhibition Annapolis: An American Story. We are grateful to the State House Trust and the Maryland Department of General Services for the loan of this fascinating piece of history," Clark said.
When it opens, Annapolis: An American Story will serve as a groundbreaking centerpiece and tie together, for the first time, the city’s rich history and important cultural sites.
Annapolis: An American Story shares dramatic stories of Annapolis and its diverse people – revolutionaries, visionaries, and champions in our nation’s continuing quest for liberty and justice – who helped to shape our American story across more than 400 years.
An inspiring film, colorful exhibits, and an unprecedented collection of objects provide a fun learning experience, spark visitor interests, and share more information about Historic Annapolis’s 10 additional partner sites, all located within a short walk from the museum: the William Paca House and Garden, the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, the Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park, the Banneker-Douglass Museum, the Maryland State House, the Hammond-Harwood House, the Mitchell Gallery at St. John’s College, the James Brice House, Hogshead, and the historic Waterfront Warehouse.
The Historic Annapolis Museum is located near City Dock in the downtown Annapolis Historic District. It is steps away from restaurants, shops and other interesting sites, museums, and activities.