Day Trip: Annapolis

In Historic Houses on May 13, 2011 at 1:37 am

If ever a city looked like a village of dollhouses, Annapolis would be it.

Today, I joined some of the guys from HABS on a trip to photograph the Hammond-Harwood House – they do this properly, in large format and using film. It really sets the standard for the rest of us. The reason they are photographing now is that the house is going through a big re-roofing project, which presents an ideal opportunity to photograph the roof structure as well as the more traditional interior and exterior.

The house is a beauty Рfive part palladian model, built in the 19th century by William Buckland (although he passed away before it was completed). It remained unfurnished for around a year as Mr Hammond lost his re-election to the State Legislature, and had no need for a home in the capital of Maryland any more. As with Decatur and Belmont, this was designed as party house really. I have no idea how anyone ever gets anything done in America; all they do is have parties.

It has had a series of owners, but exhibits as a fine example of American interiors, and the host of a pretty significant Peale collection of paintings. This painting was a favourite of mine – the doll in front of it is the doll in the picture!

Hammond-Harwood is a must for architectural historials and lovers of historic houses, as is Annapolis. You can’t walk 10ft without passing another historic house, and the whole place looks like it’s made out of candy. This is Hammond-Harwood from the exterior:

And opposite them is another famous house, the Chase Lloyd house. Chase Lloyd is less complicated in its layout, but as a child of the Ikea age, I love a bit of minimalism (although my American companions did prefer Hammond-Harwood).

Chase-Lloyd is *kind of* open to the public, but not really. It’s a boarding house for mature ladies on their own, but we were with local curators, the all-powerful tourguides, and we got to sneak a peak. I have to tell you, walking up Cantilever stairs is TERRIFYING, no matter how stable someone tells you they are. What an elegant way to risk your life though.

There really are so many beautiful buildings in Annapolis, many of which are open to the public in at least some capacity. It’s a beautiful town, very American but at the same time, very unusual for America. Look at all that red brick, for a start! No plastic kit homes from a catalogue in Annapolis. There are also the mighty impressive Naval Academy and the State Capitol, which are some pretty impressive buildings.

After a wander through the streets to see some of the best sights as well as Chase Lloyd and Hammond-Harwood, we were taken for a lovely lunch at Middleton’s (how topical!) on the waterfront, and then took a wander up to an ice cream parlour. At the Annapolis Ice Cream Company on main street, one small cup of ice cream is FOUR SCOOPS. Yet another reason to visit. I was in a real quandry over which flavour – Apple Pie or Pumpkin Pie?! Gah. They both looked delicious. Friendly man behind the counter said “Why not have half and half?” – what a hero. I did – they make apple pies and pumpkin pies fresh, and then chop them up into the ice cream, and I can confirm most-wholeheartedly that this technique works.

Now, I’m pretty sure that the lunch and ice cream isn’t a standard part of the Hammond-Harwood house tour, but it’s incredible none-the-less, and Annapolis is well worth the trip itself. If you love a good house museum or a senic place to meander around shops, restaurants and general cuteness, Annapolis is for you, and is not to be missed if you’re in the DC area for more than a few days.

POST SCRIPT: Hammond-Harwood have a lovely blog! Click here to check it out.

  1. Thanks for the link – glad you enjoyed your visit!

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