Step back in time as you explore the narrow and crooked streets of Colonial Annapolis. Once called the “Paris of America,” it spans 40 blocks and is a National Historic Landmark District (NHLD) – a distinction few other cities can boast of.
It’s home to more brick buildings that predate the Revolutionary War than any other historic district in the United States.
History and significance
The English explorer Captain John Smith set foot here in 1608, but the city wasn’t settled until a few decades later, when over 300 Puritans relocated from Virginia to the banks of the Severn River, close to the site that would become Annapolis. Some settled at the site, giving it various epithets before naming it after Queen Anne of Great Britain.
As Maryland’s designated capital, it became the center of politics and trade, pulsating with social activities. Its affluence only increased at the turn of the 18th century and reached its peak during the Revolutionary War.
The Continental Congress assembled at the Maryland State House towards the end of the War, and it was here that George Washington resigned as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in 1783 following the ratification of the Treaty of Paris.
Annapolis then became the Colonial Capital of the United States until 1784. Baltimore eclipsed the city as Maryland’s commercial center soon after.
Important buildings and structures
The Colonial Annapolis Historic District is treasured for its remarkably preserved buildings, residences, and harbor areas that date back to the 18th century, quite a few of which are Registered National Historic Landmarks.
- Maryland State House
- Hammond-Harwood House
- Chase-Lloyd House
- The Old Treasury Building
- William Reynolds Tavern
- William Paca House
- Peggy Stewart House
- Christopher Hohne-Holland House
- Brice House
- Anne’s Episcopal Church
The Maryland State House harks back to 1772 and is the oldest capital building in continuous legislative use – to date, the Maryland General Assembly convenes here for three months out of the year. Moreover, the Senate president, speaker of the House of Delegates, governor, and lieutenant governor hold office here.
It also happens to be the only state house that has served as the US capitol.
Many of these fascinating buildings and residences can be admired from the outside, and many of them are open to the public as well. Go on a walking tour of the historic district, with a knowledgeable guide clad in colonial-era costume for company.
Get ready to be amazed as you walk all the way down Main Street. The tour will take you inside the Maryland State House and the colonial kitchen and dining room of an exquisite Georgian mansion.
You’ll also get to see St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, the William Paca House, and the Hammond-Harwood House. Enjoy views of the Chesapeake Bay at the Annapolis City Dock. Learn about day-to-day life during Annapolis’ Golden Age.
Tours typically last for about an hour and is less than a mile’s walk in and around the historic district. Private and customized tours are also available.
Among the groups offering tours are: