From Georgian-style structures that sheltered signers of the Declaration of Independence to a Greek Revival-style farmhouse that was central to the area’s produce sales, Anne Arundel County is home to some of the state’s most significant historic residences. Here are six that have their histories, architecture and decor on display for the public to explore.
Rising Sun Inn
1090 Generals Highway, Crownsville
The Rising Sun Inn was more than just an inn. Its history includes time as a farmhouse, a tavern, a stagecoach shop, a post office and a recreation center for Fort Meade soldiers during World Wars I and II. Today, it’s a symbol of 18th and 19th century America.
Edward Baldwin, an Arundel County tobacco grower, built the home for his family around 1753. The original building includes a brick gable end laid in “header bond,” where the shorter face of the brick is used for the wall’s face, says Susan Giddings, vice president of the Friends of the Rising Sun and member of the Ann Arundel Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, which eventual inn owner Richard “Bo” Williams gifted the building to in 1916. The inn is one of the few surviving Colonial, framed-structures in the state to feature this type of brickwork, Giddings says.
Around 1784, Baldwin’s son, Henry, expanded the house and turned it into a tavern. The original tap room remains with wooden floors and cupboards built to hold the tavern’s keg and tankards. During tours, visitors see furniture, ceramics, silver and glass related to home and tavern life, as well as a dollhouse replica of the historic Jonas Green House in Annapolis.
The inn also has a history of ghostly encounters, Giddings says. Workers have reported “feeling watched,” and volunteers have heard banging sounds and heavy footsteps in the basement.
The Rising Sun Inn is open the second Sunday of each month from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for tours, as well as for special events like a historic candlelight ghost tour on Oct. 20. $5. risingsuninn.org.
Chase Lloyd House
22 Maryland Ave., Annapolis
Named for Samuel Chase, a Maryland lawyer, signer of the Declaration of Independence and Supreme Court justice, and Edward Lloyd IV, a wealthy plantation owner who bought the half-finished home from Chase, the Chase Lloyd House is still used as a residence.
The Georgian-style home is known for its front door, brasses, central cantilevered staircase and the Palladian window that the first tier of the staircase leads to, says Maggie McDowell, a member of the Chase Lloyd House Board of Trustees.
“When I think about how many early Colonial leaders entered through those doors, like George Washington and Francis Scott Key, it’s a pretty powerful thing,” she says.
Equally important are those who did not enter through the front doors: the Lloyd family slaves, including Frederick Douglass, McDowell says.
“They are all representative of the ‘other history’ of our country,” she says. “Representative of the people who served and survived at the pleasure of the owners.”
In 1886, Hester Anne Chase Ridout established the house as an independent living facility for elderly woman where they “avoid the vicissitudes of life,” McDowell says. Eight women currently occupy the second and third floors.
On the tour, don’t miss paintings of female leaders like Anne Catherine Green and Harriet Tubman in the back hallway.
The Chase Lloyd House is open for tours Mondays through Saturdays in March through December from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5. Wear flat shoes to preserve the original floors. chaselloydhouse.org.
William Brown House (London Town Publik House)
839 Londontown Road, Edgewater
Named for its original owner, the Georgian-style William Brown House is part of Historic London Town and Gardens, a 23-acre park owned by the county and managed by the London Town Foundation.
Brown, a carpenter, ferry master and tavern keeper, built his home circa 1760 as a tavern overlooking the ferry landing in the port town of London on the South River. It includes header bond brickwork, an architectural feature symbolic of the area and time.
From the 1820s until 1965, the house served as the county’s almshouse – a place where the area’s poor and mentally ill residents could live.
Visitors can tour the home’s tavern room, parlor, kitchen and “corner rooms,” which provided private spaces for club meetings and small dinners. Admission also includes access to the park’s public programs, gardens and other historic areas.
Throughout the past 250 years moisture has damaged the building’s windows and brickwork, so in August, London Town launched the first part of a 24-week preservation project. Though there is scaffolding outside the house, it will remain open through 2018, says Lauren Silberman, deputy director of Historic London Town and Gardens.
The William Brown House is open for guided tours Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and for self-guided tours on weekends from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through November. $3-$12. Free for children age 3 and under. historiclondontown.org.
7101 Aviation Blvd., Linthicum Heights
Tucked back off Aviation Boulevard and BWI Marshall Airport’s Hiker Biker Trail sits the Benson-Hammond House, a Greek revival-style home built in the early 19th century.
Thomas Benson, a War of 1812 veteran, constructed the two-story, four-room brick home on a more than 270-acre property known as “Addition to Timber Ridge.” His son, Joseph Benson, added a third story and called the property “Cedar Farm.” It was sold in 1887 to Rezin Hammond and operated the property as a “truck farm,” where workers grew produce like strawberries, peas and beans for sale in local and Baltimore markets, staff members say.
Today, the house is run by the Ann Arundell County Historical Society to commemorate truck farming and the Victorian era. The first and second floors depict life in the late 1800s. A parlor includes quilts, an ornate organ, a green velvet sofa donated by the Benson family and portraits of the Benson and Hammond families. Second-floor bedrooms include clothing and furniture from the time period, including a cradle donated by the Benson family. The children’s bedroom houses the only original mantle and fireplace.
The third floor has a collection of antique dolls and artifacts from the county’s agricultural and military past, such as a cannon ball found near Benfield Boulevard and a sword used by a Civil War colonel. A section displays hundreds of “pickers’ checks” – stamped tokens farm workers received as payment.
The Benson-Hammond House is open the second Saturday of the month from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. March through December and for special events. Admission is $5; free for members of the historical society. aachs.org.
William Paca House
186 Prince George St., Annapolis
This five-part, red brick Georgian mansion served as home to William Paca, Maryland’s third governor and one of the state’s four signers of the Declaration of Independence, and his family from the early 1760s through 1780.
After Paca sold the house, it became a rental property and eventually the Carvel Hall hotel. When the hotel closed in 1965, Historic Annapolis and the State of Maryland bought the Paca house, and experts meticulously restored the home to its 18th century state throughout the next decade.
Visitors get a sense of upper-class, 18th-century Colonial life in Annapolis as they tour the home’s foyer, parlor, kitchen and bedrooms.
Equally impressive is the home’s garden, a two-acre site with brick walls that enclose a series of terraces filled with shrubs and colorful flowers. The Summerhouse, reconstructed from a 1772 portrait of Paca, is the garden’s focal point. From its upper floor, Paca family members could see the garden and entertain guests, staff members say. Visitors cross the pond to the Summerhouse using a Chinese-style latticework bridge – a popular spot for photos.
This fall in the garden, don’t miss Raydon’s Favorite aster blooming a bright blue, the burgundy colors on the Oakleaf hydrangea and bright yellow leaves on the Bottlebrush buckeye shrub, says Carrie Kiewett, senior vice president for Historic Annapolis.
The William Paca House and garden are open for tours Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. in mid-March through December. The home is also open for special events. $10 for a guided full house tour and self-guided garden tour, $8 for a guided first-floor tour and self-guided garden tour, and $5 for a self-guided garden tour. annapolis.org.
2795 Bayside Beach Road, Pasadena
Stephen Hancock Jr., a member of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, built Hancock’s Resolution, a two-story, gambrel-roofed sandstone farmhouse in 1785. His descendants lived on the property until the 1962, when the house and 12 acres were left to the Annapolis Historic Society. The county Department of Recreation and Parks leased and restored the property, opening it to the public in 1999.
Hancock built the home’s wall surfaces using galleting, a technique where spalls or stone chips are used to fill in mortar joints. The same technique was used on the adjacent milk house, which the family used to store dairy products in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The house was later used as a grocery and dry goods store.
Inside the farm house, original Federal period trim, including baseboards, chair rail, window and door surrounds, remain.
Hancock’s Resolution is open Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. April through October and for special events. Most events are free but donations are accepted. historichancocksresolution.org.