Annapolis has a rich history that dates back decades before the Revolutionary War. Although many structures from that era were destroyed by neglect or were completely renovated, several magnificent mansions and a few smaller homes retain their original beauty. Visitors can tour some of these homes to learn more about former occupants, era-specific architecture and what life was like in Annapolis in centuries past.
James Brice House
This is one of the most impressive surviving colonial homes in the United States. As a National Historic Landmark home, it is currently owned and maintained by the state. The house was built by James Brice, who served as mayor of the city in the 1880s. Although it was originally a plantation home, it was moved to the city. Previous excavation work uncovered spiritual offering relics that slaves who worked there left behind. The brick mansion and its sprawling pavilions have a majestic Georgian style, and this is one of the few remaining well-preserved homes in the city from its era.
Visitors are welcome to see the James Brice House at 42 East Street from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekdays.
This home was constructed in 1774 and is considered the crown jewel of Annapolis. The home was built for a wealthy farmer, and it was modeled after Italy’s Villa Pisani in Montagnana by William Buckland. Guests can take guided tours through the home to see impressive collections of Charles Wilson Peale paintings and John Shaw furniture. There is also a museum, which hosts educational events and special exhibits periodically. Guests can register for membership on the museum’s website to receive exclusive discounts.
The museum is at 19 Maryland Avenue and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m.
William Paca House & Garden
This Georgian mansion was built in the 1760s and was originally owned and partially designed by William Paca. He was one of the people who signed the Declaration of Independence, and he served as the state’s governor for three terms. The property’s beautiful walled garden spans two acres and includes a large summer house. There are roses, perennials, annuals, trees and a pond with a latticework bridge in the garden. In 1971, the William Paca House & Garden became a National Historic Landmark. During the early 1900s, it was a hotel called Carvel Hall. Although the brick home was once partially remodeled, the changes were reversed to restore it to its original appearance.
The property at 186 Prince George Street is open for tours from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. every day except for Sunday, when it opens at 12 p.m.
In comparison with the city’s enormous Georgian brick mansions, this wooden home is a modest piece of Maryland’s history. It is one of the few homes of its style that survived multiple centuries. Around the time of the Revolutionary War, soldiers often stayed in inexpensive homes like this one temporarily. When Hogshead showed signs of serious deterioration in the 1960s, professionals restored most of its frame but installed a new roof and siding. The interior was restored, and its original beehive oven, brick floor, fireplace and sump in the cellar were preserved. Also, the original stairs to the second story were reinforced, and some of the original flooring was preserved.
At 43 Pinkney Street, the small house welcomes visitors between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. from late March through early December.
This historic brick home was built around 1770 and is located at 22 Maryland Avenue. It is significant in the state’s history since it was one of the first three-story Georgian homes that was built before the Revolutionary War. Although the home was erected for Declaration of Independence signatory Samuel Chase, he sold it before it was finished. It was designed in part by William Buckland and by William Noke. In the 1880s, the mansion was gifted as a home for elderly women by the deceased owner. Today, it is still used for this purpose.
Visitors are not allowed to disturb the residents on the upper floors but can tour the main floor on Tuesdays or Fridays between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
There are several other historic homes in the Colonial Annapolis Historic District such as the Shiplap House, the John Callahan House and the Artisan’s House. Although some of the homes have been partially renovated, they maintain most of their beautiful original features. Since touring hours may change periodically for any of these homes or for some of the city’s other historic dwellings, check a specific house’s website or the city’s tourism site to find current hours and admission fees. More information on touring some of these homes can be found here.