Archaeological dig yields artifacts of early Annapolis


There's a nutty song from my childhood, the first couple of verses of which my sister and I can render off-tune at any tiny provocation, called "I'm My Own Grandpa."

I had occasion last week to remember it, hearing about some friends' vacation plans, which included a first-time visit for the children to an 89-year-old relative who through marriage had been both great-aunt and cousin.

This kind of interweaving of relationships makes history fun, particularly when the particulars still are alive to remember.

Coincidentally, I also talked that night with Phil Dodds, owner with his wife, Susan, of the Bordley-Randall House, just off State Circle in Annapolis. Its grounds are the site of an exploratory dig, designed to trace not genealogical connections, but cultural ones.

The Bordley house was built between 1715 and 1720, a generation before the other famous houses of Annapolis. It was doubled in size just before the Civil War. Because of its place in the middle of a block, its grounds have been disturbed very little through the years. The archaeological project, which is between the original kitchen and the smokehouse, has yielded a wide variety of pottery, coins, bones and other artifacts, all of which give an indication of the history of the house and the growth of Annapolis.

"It was a purely British house," Phil Dodds explained, built at the time that Annapolis was just getting its feet on the ground as a social and commercial center.

The house never has served any purpose other than a home, so the artifacts found in the dig can be trusted as being representative of ordinary daily life in a decidedly upscale Colonial family.

"We're also finding building materials that predate what we know about the construction of the house," Mr. Dodds said, like leading for windowpanes that seems to date from the 17th century.

Through the end of this week, the archaeological dig at the Bordley-Randall house is open to the public, with guided visits welcomed several times each afternoon from the State Circle entry between Maryland Avenue and North Street.

It's a rare opportunity to experience the history of our town, through a glimpse at the life of the people who created it.


The Charles Carroll House and its gardens are now public facilities, which enables the Annapolis Opera to present its summer concert, "A Summer's Evening of Musical Theatre, 1790-1990," on its grounds.

The concert, at 8 p.m. Aug. 11, will trace the development of musical theater from the operas of Mozart's day, through operettas to contemporary Broadway musicals. A Colonial connection is established with the relationship between Ballad Opera in early Annapolis and today's entertainment.

The Aug. 11 production is a collaboration among the Annapolis Opera, the Charles Carroll House of Annapolis and the Maryland Lyric Opera.

Featured singers include Michael Begley, soprano Carla DelVillaggio, tenor Harry Dunstan and soprano Kay Krekow.

Tickets are available from Annapolis Opera at 267-8135. Prices are $16 for chair seating, $14 for lawn seating and $12 for students and seniors. Members of the Annapolis Opera and Carroll House may receive a $1 discount on tickets.

I= For more information, contact Michael Begley at 381-7057.

While I would rather be too hot than too cold, the weather of the past three weeks makes me wonder if maybe I've indeed died and gone to the Purgatory of Perpetual Discomfort.

It's tough to get excited about doing anything in this heat, including racing sailboats, unless you're a die-hard.

The Shady Side Rural Heritage Society has an answer for die-hards and marginal fans: the seventh annual Chesapeake 20 Regatta on Sunday afternoon.

The race will begin at 1 p.m., and take about two hours. It is suggested that viewers arrive with their lawn chairs at the Captain Salem Avery House Museum dock toward the end of the race. The museum is at 1418 E. W. Shady Side Road.

For more information, call Mavis Daly at (301) 261-5234.


Contemporary folk singer Sue Trainor and the Rockabilly/Country Swing ensemble Bill Kirchen & Too Much Fun are the draws Saturday evening at Quiet Waters Park, in the third of seven summer evening concerts.

The free series is sponsored by Giant Food, Quiet Waters Exxon, the Friends of Quiet Waters Park and the Anne Arundel County Commission on Culture and the Arts. Sandwiches, beverages and snacks will be sold on site.

The concert begins at 6 p.m. For more information, call Quiet Waters Park at 222-1777.

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