The wedding of Gov. Larry Hogan's stepdaughter this weekend might be one of the largest parties thrown at the historic governor's mansion in decades, but Maryland's governors have hosted high-profile and extravagant affairs for centuries.
Mark Twain visited the mansion. So have Queen Elizabeth and several sitting presidents. One of Maryland's earliest governors threw so many huge, raucous parties between 1782 and 1785 that the events earned their own nickname — governor's routs — and inspired poetry, such as this stanza by Charles County lawyer and party guest Gephenial Turner:
The liquor at length getting into their heads,
They though[t] it high time to go home to their beds,
Some in coaches were carried, others ... thro the street
For scarce one of them all could stand on his feet.
Perhaps the tenure of Gov. William Paca and his parties might have gone differently if 18th-century verse had had the social potency of a 21st-century Instagram picture.
Paca's parties were held at the original mansion, which later became part of the Naval Academy grounds, said Mimi Calver, a staffer with the Maryland Archives.
Since 2009, Calver has been helping to compile a history of major events at Government House. She and the archives hope to publish their findings as a book.
Calver has read the historical research on Paca's parties and sums it up this way: "They were pretty crazy."
In her informal ranking of interesting events at the governor's mansion, Calver puts near the top a visit from Samuel Clemens, the writer known as Mark Twain.
First lady Emma Nicodemus Warfield wrote Clemens out of the blue and asked him to visit the mansion as a fundraiser to solicit money for a Presbyterian church, Calver said. The May 1907 event proved so popular it outgrew the mansion and was moved to the neighboring State House.
It raised a whopping $600, and sparked an enduring friendship between the Warfields and Clemens, Calver said.
During a dinner held in Clemens' honor the following night, Clemens told a story of nearly getting arrested for smoking while touring the Naval Academy grounds. In an article from that time, The Baltimore Sun noted that he also defended his practice of wearing white suits to dinner. He said it made him look younger.
"It was all done by Mrs. Warfield, not the governor," Calver said. "It was all her doing."
Other notable visitors over the centuries included Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Queen Elizabeth took a five-hour tour of Annapolis in 1954.
She was 28 at the time, and just over a year into what would become the longest reign of any British monarch.
Baltimore Sun researcher Paul McCardell contributed to this report.