Showing posts with label MD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MD. Show all posts

Friday, September 8, 2023

Discover Annapolis: History, Attractions and More in Maryland's Capital

Boats docked on Spa Creek in Eastport Annapolis with the Naval Academy in the background.
Courtesy: Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County

Annapolis, which is the capital city of Maryland, is safe, walkable, historic and picturesque.  Situated on the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Severn River, it forms part of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area and, as such, is convenient for those who want to visit either place, with Annapolis as their home base.

I recently visited the area for a short stay, during which time I was able to tour the the Museum of Historic Annapolis, the  Maryland State House, the William Paca House and Garden, and the world renowned United States Naval Academy

Visiting the Museum of Historic Annapolis

The Museum of Historic Annapolis

Guests can start their history tours with the Museum of Historic Annapolis located at 99 Main Street, where three floors of exhibits await to share the story of the people who shaped it, from the arrival of new immigrants, to the expansion of the Naval Academy and the development of new neighborhoods.

The museum also tells the story of segregation in the area. Guests will learn about John T. Maynard, a free black man who earned a living as a waiter at the City Hotel and became a prominent community leader. Maynard served as a trustee of the Stanton School on Washington Street and also as a church leader at mount Moriah A.M.E. Church, which dates back to the 1870s and now serves as the Banneker-Douglass Museum.  Guests will also learn about the Green Book, which listed places where African American travelers were welcome, like Carr's Beach, an entertainment and music venue that hosted the likes of such renowned entertainers of the day like Little Richard, Sara Vaughan, Chuck Berry, Ike and Tina Turner, The Temptations, Billie Holiday and more. 

Carr's Beach hosted a litany of talented entertainers.

Knowledgeable staff at the Museum of Historic Annapolis will also be happy to answer any questions about additional historic sites, all located within a short walk from the museum, to help you make the most of your time in Annapolis.

Touring the Home of a Man Who Signed the Declaration of Independence

At the William Paca House and Garden I met up with a lovely tour guide/volunteer who escorted me around the property and pointed out various areas of interest relating to the gentleman who was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

A view of the William Paca House from the garden.

William Paca was a member of the Maryland Senate from 1776-1777 and 1778-1780. He became Chief Justice of Maryland in 1782 and seven years later was elected Governor of the State. He was later appointed by George Washington as Chief Justice of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland--a position he held until his untimely death at age 59. 

His five-part Georgian Mansion was built in the 1760s and later was acquired by the Annapolis Hotel Corporation.  Renamed the Carvel Hall Hotel, it debuted in 1901 with 200 rooms. By the mid-1960s, developers were eyeing up the property for mixed-use development until Historic Annapolis, headed up by Anne St. Clair Wright and other local preservationists, stepped in to save the property and restore it to its original splendor using historical artwork and archeological excavations. Since then it has been recognized as one of the finest 18th-century homes in the country. In 1971, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Correspondence was likely written in this room.

The attractive dining room of the Paca house.

A kitchen area where game, fish and other foods were prepared.

The elegant and peaceful two-acre garden contains "rooms," known as parterres, where guests can walk among the roses, flowers, hollies and boxwoods on their way to the fish-shaped pond and the two-story summer house which is rented out for events and celebrations.

The summerhouse at the rear of the garden is rented out today for celebrations and other events.

Visitors should note that guided tours take place on the hour and half hour and take between 45-50 minutes. The William Paca House and Garden is located at 186 Prince George Street. Admission fee is $5 for a self-guided tour of the garden and $12 for a guided tour of the house. It is a Blue Star Museum, offering free admission on select dates to the nation's active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve. Learn more at the website here

Take a Free Tour of the Maryland State House

Maryland Avenue, Annapolis, with State House in the background.
                                        Courtesy: Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County

Next up was the Maryland State House, the oldest state house in America in continuous legislative  use and where the Maryland General Assembly meets three months out of the year. 

The free, self-guided tour takes visitors from the 18th to the 21st century, beginning in the Archive Room where they can get the lay of the land, so to speak, with brochures and other helpful information. 
The lobby of the State House.

The dome was added between 1785 and 1794, is the largest wooden dome in America and was crafted without nails.

It was in the State House that George Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in 1783. This notable speech is considered by historians to be the fourth most important document in American history, setting the precedent of the military being under civilian authority. Guests can find the speech in a display case in the Senate chambers. In between the chambers, in the so-called "stairwell room," visitors will see a silhouette of a person ascending the stairs to the second floor gallery.  That person is Molly Rideout, the eldest daughter of Maryland governor Samuel Ogle and recorder of Washington's resignation. At the time, females were not permitted on the Senate floor.

Molly Rideout ascends the steps to record proceedings.

The thoughtful layout of the State House ensures that guests will know they've left the 18th century when they cross a black band on the floor. Built between 1902 and 1905, the new part is called the Annex. It's here where the Maryland legislature meets for its 90-day session starting the first Wednesday in January.

Guests will see skylights in both chambers crafted by the talented Louis Comfort Tiffany.

In the Senate chamber, they'll encounter portraits of Maryland's four Declaration of Independence signers: Charles Carroll, William Paca, Thomas Stone and Samuel Chase, along with one of Verda Welcome, the first African American woman to become a Maryland Senator.

Maryland's Senate chamber.

In the House of Delegates chamber, guests will see former speakers of the House arranged in chronological order.

Maryland's House Chamber.
It's also important to note that the Maryland State House was the Capitol of the United States from November 1783-August 1784 and was America's first peace time capitol. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960, the first State House in the nation to acquire that status.

This wall tells the stories of the Heroes of the Revolution, including Catherine Hoof Green, the only female pictured. She ran The Maryland Gazette after her husband's death. 

The State House is open every day from 8:30-5:00 p.m., except for Christmas and New Year's Day.

Touring the Naval Academy

A tour of the United States Naval Academy is a must during any visit to Annapolis. It's quite interesting to learn about what a rigorous program these young women and men follow in order to be a part of the over 4,400 students registered here. 

While on the tour, I learned many surprising facts. Did you know that the United States government covers the tuition of all students and that the Academy only accepts 8.1 percent of those who apply? In return, these individuals must prove themselves worthy every step of the way.

The Naval Academy will also accept those who cannot swim. "They'll teach you, but you'll have to prove yourself," said our tour guide, explaining that, in order to pass the naval swimming test, Plebes (what freshmen are called) are expected to jump into water wearing overalls and tread water for two minutes, then be able to swim more than 54 yards in four minutes without touching the sides or bottom of the pool before exiting from the deep end without assistance. See that extremely tall diving board? "Plebes are expected to walk off it with their hands crossed over their chests with their khakis on," explained our tour guide.

The Olympic-sized swimming pool in the Naval Academy training center.

Another interesting fact I learned while on the tour is that Bancroft Hall is the largest dormitory in the world and, upon acceptance, students forfeit all of their personal electronics. 

Bancroft Hall interior.
Bancroft Hall was named after Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft, who founded the school in 1845. When Plebes enter the hall, everything for everyday life is provided, from cobblers for shoes, to tailors for clothes, salons for haircuts, stores for everyday necessities and banks for financial transactions.

During the tour, we also learned that H. Ross Perot, who passed in 2019, was a student at the Academy and quietly supported the school on the stipulation that his name not be placed on any of the buildings. Doing good things without recognition--more people should follow his example. 

In the photo below is the beautiful interdenominational chapel built in 1904. It seats approximately 2,500.  A window, which appears above the altar, shows Christ Walking upon The Water and was designed by Tiffany Studios.

The Naval Academy Chapel built in 1904.
The tour also took us to Dahlgren Hall, named for Rear Adm. John A. Dahlgren, inventor of naval guns and Civil War leader. It's the site of special events and also serves as a lounge for the midshipmen. Shown prominently in the photo is a full-sized replica of the Wright brothers 1911 Navy B-1 airplane.

Dahlgren Hall serves as a lounge for midshipmen and their visitors.

Another part of the campus features capacious officers' houses, which span 4,200 square feet and contain seven bedrooms and as many fireplaces. I, for one, would have loved to have taken a peek inside.
Officers' houses span 4,200 square feet and contain seven bedrooms and fireplaces.

These are just a few details from the tour we took that lasted almost two hours. Be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes and a state-issued ID should you decide to go. Costs at this time are $12 for adults, $11 for seniors and $10 for children.

Get Your Shop On

There's no dearth of boutique shops, art galleries and restaurants in Annapolis. Antique shops, in particular, are plentiful. Below are a few shots of the merchandise that I found interesting, particularly the photo of the tour guides which dates back to the 1950s. "They all came back to identify themselves," said the shopkeeper.

Silk Road Antiques located at 53 Maryland Ave.

Seen at an art gallery.

I thought this painting of a sailboat was beautiful.

Tour guides of 1959.

Painted shells seen in one shop window.


We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn located conveniently within three blocks of the State House and within striking distance of places to eat and drink. Our room was spacious, with a safe for valuables, comfortable beds and a Keurig. 

The Capital Hotel
For a more boutique-like experience, there is the Capital Hotel, a thoughtfully restored building located on State Circle in the Historic District, which is thought to be between 200 and 300 year's old. It is comprised of six quiet private rooms with great views. 

Two of the six rooms located at the Capital Hotel

Visitors who stay can take advantage of the onsite restaurant and bar called the Parley Room. Guests have the opportunity to dine inside, or al fresco on the patio.

The Parley Room.

Well this pretty much sums up our latest experience in Annapolis. For the record, we stayed about a day and a half. There's so much more to do in the city, from food tours, to Segway tours, haunted tours and more, all of which I can recommend, having done all those years before this visit. This time I thought it best to learn more about the history of the area and I have to say we covered quite a bit of ground in a short amount of time. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Art, Architecture, History and More in Fun Frederick Maryland

The clustered spires of Frederick.

This has been a very wet summer--I believe the wettest on record in our area, so I have been squeezing in activities while I can.

A few weeks ago, I decided to spend two nights in Frederick, Maryland, Frederick is a great walking city with plenty of independent shops, restaurants, an impressive art walk and the fascinating Civil War Museum of Medicine.

I was disappointed to miss out on a ghost tour due to a deluge, but I realize these are small problems compared to the rest of the country and was thankful that it only rained for a few hours one evening.

Luckily, I was able to swap out the ghost tour with a food tour before I left the following day. Tours, no matter what their theme, are always informative and local tour guides are happy to answer any questions that might pop up during the walk.

First Stop: The Frederick Visitors' Center
Although obvious, it sometimes bears repeating that the Visitors' Center should be your first stop for event schedules, brochures describing activities and maps to learn the lay of the land.

The Frederick Visitors' Center is located at 151 S. East Street, Frederick in a renovated warehouse that dates back to 1899. It is open seven days a week from 9 to 5:30 p.m. and touts 2,200 square feet of interpretive exhibits, along with a state-of-the-art theater that features a film about the area. Helpful Visitors' Services Specialists are always on duty to answer any questions.  They also validate parking, which is free for three hours at any of the area's five garages.

The Public Art Trail
What initially attracted me to the area was the Public Art Trail, which is in walking distance of the Visitors' Center. It did not disappoint

The first stop on the trail is The Delaplaine Arts Center located at 40 S. Carroll Street.
Bin Feng, a Shanghai-born artist displays his photos in "The American Dream" installation.
The free museum operates as a non-profit and is housed in a re-purposed mill that dates back more than a century. Their tagline: "Everyone Deserves Art," and it is provided abundantly with three floors of rotating exhibits featuring regional and national artists. During our visit, we experienced the thought-provoking work of Bin Feng, whose installation titled, "The American Dream" evokes the isolation he feels as a Shanghai-born artist living in America. His large-scale photographs possess a dream-like quality and he often appears in them as a dispassionate outsider.

Seven galleries of exhibits change monthly, so there is almost always something new to see.
A sculpture garden out back features contemporary art sculptures among the blooms.
sculpture garden
A sculpture garden is located behind the Delaplaine Arts Center.
art center
The Delaplaine Arts Center offers art classes, workshops and seven galleries of rotating artwork.
Located not far from the garden is the Iron Bridge traversing Carroll Creek Park. Created by David David Chikvashvili and Nikolai Pakhomov of Iron Masters, it highlights some of nature's wonders that can be seen in the area.
The hand-forged iron and steel bridge that crosses Carroll Creek.

Nearby is the spectacular trompe l'oeil mural, which was conceived and executed by Frederick artist William Cochran in 1993. He and his assistants used permanent silicate paints to create the expansive work on all six walls of the Community Bridge.
trompe l'oeil
"The Forgotten Song."

Trompe l'oeil
Tour guides have noticed birds trying to land on "The Unfound Door."

trompe l'oeil
"The Woman of Samaria."

"Archangel" depicts a painting technique called "anamorphic projection" a technique invented by Leonardo da Vinci where the image appears different at various angles. The painting's message? "Where we stand, determines what we see."

Hands holding the earth.


The artist's concept was met with quite a bit of controversy at first. It took years before the city was given the green light to go ahead and within a period of five years, the painting of the bridge was completed. The award-winning work of art is described as one that  "speaks with a communal voice." You can learn more about this impressive project by clicking on the video below.

More art awaits on the Stone-Arch Bridge crossing the Carroll Creek where zodiac-themed sculptures are installed on both sides. This is another work created by Nikolai Pakhomov, with the message that time, universe and humanity are connected.
zodiac art
Zodiac Sculptures
This statue is situated in front of the library and was created by George Lundeen. It depicts two children gazing over the shoulder of an adult as he reads the lyrics of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Nature's art plays a part as well, with plants that bloom in the creek that flows through the middle of the park. I believe I may have just missed a spectacular show, but you can see that a few plants were still blooming when I visited in early September. We spotted a few ducks as well.
trompe l'oeil
The bottom one is real.

Among the 4,000 plants are lilies, lotuses, water irises, reeds and cattail. You can see additional pictures and learn more about "Color on the Creek" here.

Additional works of art continue on buildings located downtown, like this depiction of The Frederick News-Post.
newspaper mural
Frederick News-Post mural
And no, the picture below isn't some 80's rocker belting out "Eye of the Tiger." The mural, also done by Cochran, is named "Edge of Gravity," and depicts a young man from 1745. The red, white and blue colors are to intended to evoke a 250-year-old dream of liberty, equality and inclusion.
levitating man mural
The Edge of Gravity.

Further along the way at 108 Church Street is "Guess," the Greyhound sculpture. Lore has it that the dog was named by the impish little girls who lived in the building after the Civil War, who, when asked their dog's name, would reply "Guess."
Greyhound sculpture
Guess, the dog statue is located at 108 W. Church Street
Along the same vein is this sculpture, a Newfoundland known as "Charity Dog," named for the work of the non-profit Federated Charities housed in this building at 22 S. Market Street.
charity dog
"Charity Dog" is located at 22 S. Market Street.
The last piece two pieces of art I'll share with you were painted by Cochran as part of his "Angels in the Architecture" series. 
trompe l'oeil
aging angel mural
The top painting is called"Egress," and is located at Second and Market. The second painting, also created by Cochran, is named "Earthbound" and depicts an aging angel overlooking the city.

Historical Sites

The National Museum of Civil War Medicine
It's easy to think we have it bad when it comes to pain and various ailments our society contends with, so sometimes a trip back in history is necessary to kick us in the pants and remind us of how blessed we are.

The National Museum of Civil War Medicine, which spans two floors, is both interesting and informative. Placards, dioramas and exhibits transport visitors to the Civil War time period and the rapidly evolving world of medicine.
A patient is sedated with ether.
According to Jake Wynn, Educational Programming Coordinator at the museum, the war took place in an interesting time when the Industrial Revolution was just underway. "Engineering, science and a whole host of other fields were just beginning to enter into their modern forms," he said, adding that many of the lessons learned on the battlefield were brought back to civilian life. Specialization emerged from the Civil War, from plastic surgery for treating disfiguring facial injuries, to dental surgery that came with the rebuilding of jaws and neurologists who specialized in treating head injuries.  Fun fact:  Half of the early brain surgeries performed by Civil War era doctors were successful!

Additional innovations that emerged during that period as a direct result of the war was the practice of embalming, females' roles in nursing, and the ambulance system.
Civil War Exhibit
A doctor peers into his medicine chest.
Our informative guide, John Lustrea, led us through the museum to provide us with an overview and answer our questions. There was quite a bit to read along the way, so I think I'll return at some point to delve deeper into more details. I appreciated seeing the Clara Barton exhibit and learning more about her as well. Not only did she found the Red Cross, but she was also instrumental in what would today be described as a crowd-sourcing effort to help connect soldiers' remains with the families seeking them.
Clara Barton artifact
Clara Barton's trunk bed.
Guests can also spend time reading about how various ailments were treated. One exhibit was dedicated to the treatment of  STDs which, I was told, were not uncommon during the period.

There is much to see, read and digest in this captivating museum, which provides insight into this sad, yet fascinating, pivotal point in our history.

The Museum of Frederick County History
The Museum of Frederick County History was once an orphanage and a private home.

The Museum of Frederick County History located at 24 E. Church Street, once served as an orphanage and private residence. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum is open to the public from Wednesday through Sunday and a changing selection of exhibits tells the story of Frederick County from Colonial Times to the present day.
An interior room of the Museum of Frederick County History.
Two floors of exhibits share details on Frederick County and its impact on the nation.

Signature events include walking and architectural tours. To learn more, consult their website for dates and times.

Before we left, we couldn't resist purchasing "The Diary of Jacob Englebrecht." Jacob served as mayor from 1865 to 1868 and began recording his day-to-day life when he turned 20. He continued to journal on a daily basis for 60 years. I might also add that it was quite the bargain at $25 for both tomes.
Jacob Englebrecht documents his life over a period of 60 years.

historical society
A children's room encourages interactive play for budding historians.

Visiting the Monocacy Battlefield
The Monocacy Battlefield  serves as a memorial of the battle fought between the Union and Confederate armies on July 9, 1964. 
The Monocacy National Battlefield Visitors' Center
Each year approximately more than 43,000 tourists visit the area to learn more about the Battle of Monocacy, where Union troops staved off an effort to take Washington, D.C. 

The Visitors' Center, located at 5201 Urbana Drive, is open daily from 9 to 5 p.m. and should be the first stop on your visit. There you can pick up maps and learn more before touring the fields. The two-story center opened to the public in 2007. The first floor contains a welcome area and gift shop and the second floor features interactive exhibits to help shed light on the soldiers, citizens and families who were affected by the battle. 

Guests can learn more about the battle through a self-guided automobile tour, which features five stops spanning six miles. Those who prefer to tour the area on foot can traverse six miles of designated walking trails.
Cannons seen from the balcony of the visitors' center.
Monocacy visitors' center
Learn about the Battle of Monocacy at the Visitors' Center.
A view of the battlefield from the balcony with interpretive signage.

Standing on the battlefield, it's difficult to imagine that the peaceful setting along the Monocacy River was once the site of a fierce and bloody battle to the death. This destination, run by the National Park Service, provides the public with the finer details of a fight that doesn't seem to get all much attention, yet is credited for saving Washington, D.C. 


The exterior of the Flying Dog Brewery on a cloudy day.
Frederick is home to its fair share of breweries and choosing just one was difficult. In the end, we decided to take a drive out to Wedgewood Boulevard to check out the place that could be described as one of the pioneers in the area's craft brewing industry. Flying Dog Brewery was founded in 1990 in Colorado and expanded into Maryland in 2006. Today it is the largest craft brewery in Maryland and the 28th largest in the United States.

Guests can sign up for free tours held Thursday through Sunday. Cards are available listing a number of flights available for tasting and guests can simply mark which ones they'd like to try. The night we visited, the place was hopping (pardon the pun). The tasting room was standing room only, so many patrons wandered outside with their refreshing libations to relax and socialize at the picnic tables, or stare at their phones. (Gotta stay real here.) A few patrons engaged in a friendly game of cornhole, while others lined up at the food truck on site.
tasting room
Flying Dog's busy tasting room.

Guests relax at tables out front.

Dining and Shopping in Frederick

Frederick is home to scores of independent boutiques and eateries and a few large-scale antique stores. We actually got lost in Emporium Antiques as we strolled through the maze of rooms.
antique shop
Emporium Antiques features scores of vendors.
Interesting decor items at Industrial Home Inc.
On the last day of our visit, we decided to learn more about the city and its food offerings by taking a "Taste Frederick" food tour. We met our guide and about 10 other friendly folks for a three-hour tour that took us through the town and into various eating establishments. Our first visit at Pretzel & Pizza Creations started with what was billed as a "turkey Reuben calzone," something I wouldn't have ordered, but ended up liking quite a bit. Other stops included Firestone's Market on Market located beside the restaurant we had visited the night before There we enjoyed a pastrami sandwich. "People come from miles around for these," said our guide.
Firestone's Restaurant
As we walked the streets, we learned stories of Frederick and its architecture, including interesting information about sisters that used to live in this mansion where top-chef alumni Brian Voltaggio operates a popular restaurant by the name of Volt.
Volt is located at 228 North Market Street.
On the tour, we sampled craft beer at Brewer's Alley, which has an interesting story that dates back to the 1700s. If that piques your attention, I've provided the link here.
Brewer's Alley is located at 124 N. Market Street.

We also took a stroll along the picturesque Carroll Creek to The Wine Kitchen on the Creek where we indulged in fried green tomatoes, wine and homemade cinnamon buns.
Shops and restaurants along Carroll Creek.

Inside The Wine Kitchen on the Creek.

Our last two shops included the North Market Pop Shop, which offers 400 types of soda, some with unusual names like "Always Ask for Avery's Totally Gross Dog Drool."  I am glad we weren't offered that flavor.

soda shop
The North Market Pop Shop offers 400 types of soda.


The last stop on our tour was Zoe's Chocolate Co. where we enjoyed a truffle sampling. Zoe's is a third-generation chocolate company that started in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania and expanded into Frederick. You can learn more about their story here.

Our engaging and knowledgeable guide prepares the chocolates for serving.
Well, that's more than I intended to write for this blog. Hard to believe I spent less than three days in Frederick. Perhaps this will be an enticement to set up your own visit to the area. One thing's for sure--you won't run out of things to do.