Maryland State House
Maryland State House
|Architect||Joseph Horatio Anderson|
|NRHP reference #||66000385|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
The Maryland State House is located in Annapolis, Maryland and is the oldest U.S. state capitol in continuous legislative use, dating to 1772. It houses the Maryland General Assembly, plus the offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. The capitol has the distinction of being topped by the largest wooden dome in the United States constructed without nails. The current building, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960, is the third statehouse on its site. The building is administered by the State House Trust, established in 1969.
Construction began in 1772, but was not completed until 1797 due to the ongoing American Revolutionary War. The two-story brick Georgian style structure, located inside State Circle, was designed by architect Joseph Horatio Anderson. A small portico juts out from the center of the building, topped by a pediment, with two high arched windows framing the entrance. On both floors, large rectangular windows line the facade. A cornice is topped by another pediment and the sloping roof gives way for a central octagonal drum atop which rests a dome. The large dome is topped by a balustraded balcony, another octagonal drum and a lantern capped by a lightning rod. The rod was constructed and grounded according to the direct specifications of its inventor, Benjamin Franklin.
The building was surrounded by a low brick wall in 1818 to prevent cattle incursions. This was replaced by an iron fence with a granite base in 1836. The dome of the statehouse is depicted on the Maryland state quarter.
Located on the lawn of the State House is a statue of Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice of the United States. The statue was erected in 1872. The statute of Taney, a Marylander, is controversial because of Taney's support for slavery and his authorship of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), which upheld the denial of citizenship to African Americans. As a result, a movement in support of removing the statue as emerged. In response to criticism, the State House Trust--made up of the governor, the speaker of the state house, the president of the state senate, and the chair of the Maryland Historical Trust Board of Trustees--added interpretive plaques " explaining the controversy over his divisive opinion and its place in the evolution of the nation's stance toward slavery." On the opposite side of the Capitol, the Trust also added a statue of Baltimore native Thurgood Marshall, the first black U.S. Supreme Court justice, and agreed in 2016 to place statues of abolitionists Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass in the State House. In 2017, House Speaker Michael E. Busch has called for the removal of the Taney statute, and a day later Governor Larry Hogan also called for the statue to be removed. It was removed just after midnight on August 18, 2017.
In the rotunda is the Maryland Federalist - a replica built in 1987 of the miniature ship Federalist. Large Corinthian columns support the arches bracing the large dome above. A balustrade lines the second floor balcony.
The replica of the Maryland Federalist is actually on a more or less permanent display in the Lobby at the Thurgood Marshall Baltimore Washington International Airport Terminal. Later in the summer of 2012, the original handwritten text of George Washington's Resignation Letter was on display in the rotunda.
To the right of the entrance is the old Senate Chamber. Chairs and desks were added to the room in the exact number (16) as originally furbished. The desk for the president is an original piece made by John Shaw in 1797.
It was in the Old Senate Chamber that George Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army on December 23, 1783. A mannequin of George Washington stands in period clothing at the front of the room.
On February 2, 1781, Governor Thomas Sim Lee signed and sealed the "act to empower the delegates of this state in Congress to subscribe and ratify the Articles of Confederation." The decision established the requisite unanimous consent of all thirteen states for the formation of a Perpetual Union.
On September 11, 1786, the Annapolis Convention, an interstate convention to discuss ways to facilitate commerce between the states and the establishment standard rules and regulations, convened here. The convention laid the groundwork for the 1787 Constitutional Convention.
The chamber had extensive investigation beginning in 2007 to solve water leakage problems. As a result of this study, restorers have determined that previous restoration attempts in 1905 and 1940 did not accurately recreate many elements of the room. A report of their findings was issued in January 2010 and work continues.
The Senate chamber is located in a wing added to the original structure between 1902 and 1905. The room is illuminated by a Tiffany-style skylight above. Red carpet emblazoned with the state seal covers the entire floor. Large Ionic columns line the walls and support the viewing gallery. The marble along the walls and the columns are flecked with rust and black, Maryland's official colors.
Two famous Marylanders are featured in statues flanking the podium: John Hanson, the first president by the Articles of Confederation, and Charles Carroll, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Four portraits of Declaration of Independence signatories for Maryland hang on the walls: William Paca, Thomas Stone, Samuel Chase, and Charles Carroll. There are also portraits of Edwin Warfield and John Walter Smith.
The House of Delegates chamber is also in the new wing to the building. The carpet is navy blue and designed with a diamond and olive sheaths. The same rust and black marble lines the chamber and forms the Ionic columns along the walls. A spectators' gallery is above the rostrum. The speaker sits in front of a broken marble pediment supporting a clock. Portraits of former Speakers of the House hang on the walls.
The Governor's Reception Room is on the second floor. The room is mainly ceremonial and used for bill signings. Portraits of former governors hang on the walls. Portraits of Henrietta Maria and Queen Anne hang nearby.
From November 26, 1783 to August 13, 1784, Annapolis was the capital of the United States. The Congress of the Confederation met in the Maryland State House. Subsequently, Annapolis was a candidate to become the new permanent national capital before Washington, D.C. was built.
The United States District Court for the District of Maryland met there for the first decade of its existence. In 1800, judge Samuel Chase tried a local postmaster for embezzlement and sentenced him to thirty-nine lashes. To execute the sentence, the defendant was tied to one of the statehouse columns.
Chamber of the Maryland House of Delegates
The dome of the statehouse is depicted on the Maryland state quarter.