There’s so much history you can see in Annapolis. It’s in the architecture, the bumpy brick sidewalks and the plaques honoring a building’s old age. In a town lauded for its historic preservation, it can be fun to recognize all that has disappeared...or, in certain cases, simply been hidden from view—or moved to a new foundation. Herein, I offer some examples that you can explore for yourself.
Gone, but not forgotten
- Supermarkets and gas stations and movie theaters! You can no longer fill up your tank in front of the Market House or watch a cheap Western or SciFi movie at the Playhouse Theater on Main Street. Instead, you’ll have to visit Red Red Wine Bar in the old theater’s place and toast to the past.
- B&A Railroad Train Station at Bladen Street. Train tracks ran up Main Street until the late 1920s and, if you could peel back the asphalt on Church Circle, you’d find railroad tracks intact underneath! Between 1918 and the late 1920s, the Railroad transported as many as 1,750,000 passengers per year between Baltimore and Annapolis. In its place today is a symbol of a modern form of transportation: a parking garage.
- City Dock Memories. Herzog’s Fish Market at City Dock and a giant pile of oyster shells marked the waterfront as an active seaport.
Almost gone...but moved!
- Charles Carroll the Barrister House. Constructed circa 1724 at the corner of Main and Conduit Streets for physician Charles Carroll, this house is one of the few surviving examples of early 18th-century architecture. When the building faced demolition in 1955, the state moved it to its present location at St. John’s College on King George Street. (Read more from the Maryland Historical Trust.)
- Chancellor Johnson House. Built circa 1720, this home was moved from Northwest Street to St. John’s campus in 1937. The house was constructed for Allen Quynn, a former Annapolis mayor, and named for John Johnson, an alumnus of the class of 1820 who once owned the property on which the house stood. Johnson was the last chancellor of the state of Maryland.
- Moved twice! The Pinkney-Callahan House circa 1785-90 was moved in 1900-01 from the corner of College Avenue and Bladen Street to St. John’s Street. Making way for new construction a second time, the house moved again in 1972. Over the course of four days the house traveled to its present location at Conduit Street (half a block off Main Street). An entire day of its journey was spent navigating down Main Street! While Main Street was wider then, overhead electric wires and signage that stuck out from buildings were taken down to make room. Why keep saving the house? The builder John Callahan was a prominent late eighteenth-century Annapolitan. He was trustee of the estates of William Paca; signer of the Declaration of Independence; and Samuel Middleton, owner of Middleton's Tavern. His father-in-law, architect William Buckland, designed the Hammond Harwood House. (Learn More from the National Register of Historic Places.)
Gone but still recognized
- The 600-year-old Liberty Tree at St. John’s College. Fun Fact: The plaque marking the site of the Liberty Tree isn’t quite in the right location. So as not to interfere with the annual St. John’s/USNA Croquet Match, the memorial was placed a bit out of the way.
Now, next time you walk through Annapolis’ historic streets, take time to absorb the history you can see and look for clues of what once was.
A special thank you to Squire Richard Hillman of Annapolis Tours by Watermark and lifelong resident of the historic district for sharing his knowledge with me for this post and taking me on his rarely offered “Gone But Not Forgotten Tour.”
Photo credits: Historical photos, courtesy of Maryland State Archives; present-day photos, courtesy of Katie Redmiles