Annapolis is more than just a beautiful city on the Chesapeake Bay; it is a city full of history dating back to its incorporation in 1708. Home to 10 National Historic Landmarks, there is no shortage of historic spots to visit. So bundle up and start exploring; here are our top 5 historic sites in Annapolis.
Maryland State House
Built in 1772, the Maryland State House is home to the state government. It is the oldest state house in the US that is still in continuous legislative use and is also the only capitol building in the country that once served as the capital of the United States (1783-1784).
*Fun fact: The wooden dome is the largest dome in the United States that was constructed without nails.
This Georgian style brick home was built by James Brice, who was Mayor of Annapolis in the 1780s and acting Governor of Maryland in 1792. It is one of the largest and most elegant of Annapolis’ historic mansions.
*Fun fact: This is apparently Annapolis’ most haunted house, and the spirits there aren’t necessarily friendly.
U.S. Naval Academy
Established in 1845, this federal service academy is the second-oldest of the United States’ five service academies and educates officers for commissioning primarily into the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. The entire Naval Academy campus is a National Historic Landmark and is home to many historic sites, buildings, and monuments covering 338 beautiful waterfront acres.
*Fun fact: Every year, thousands come to watch first-year students (plebes) participate in the Herndon Monument Climb, where they attempt to get to the top of the lard-covered monument to replace a white plebe “dixie cup” hat with an upperclassmen’s hat. Tradition states that the plebe who reaches the top will rise to the rank of admiral first.
William Paca House
Another one of Annapolis’ historic Georgian mansions, this one was home to William Paca, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a three-term Governor of Maryland. The house was built between 1763 and 1765 and was mostly designed by Paca himself.
*Fun fact: The beautiful 2-acre walled garden behind the house, with its five terraces, fish-shaped pond, and wilderness garden, has become an Annapolis-favorite spot to host intimate weddings and special events.
St. John’s College
St. John’s is a private liberal arts college that officially received its collegiate charter in 1784, making it one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the United States. The school has no majors and all students follow an identical Great Books curriculum, focused on critically acclaimed literature and philosophy of Western society.
*Fun fact: St. John’s’ proximity to the Naval Academy has helped establish a spirited rivalry between the two schools. They come together once a year to compete in the Annapolis Cup, a croquet match that will be in its 34th year this April. See pictures of this famed event here.