The weather in late Sept here in the Chesapeake Bay area is usually very
pleasant and so far this week that is holding true. Yesterday our trip to
Baltimore was sunny and comfortable. This morning has been spent doing that
very familiar chore that is known to everyone. Clean out and organize the
garage. My aunt has a four bay and it is amazing how much trash and junk
can accumulate but with moderate temp the job when fast and with out too
much sweating. After lunch we plan to take a drive into Annapolis and then
stop for groceries for dinner. Planning to make a big pot of chicken soup
and that will be good for several meals.
Annapolis is one of the small town capital cities like Salem or Carson City
in contrast to the big cities like Denver or Salt Lake City. Annapolis’ roots
hark back to 1649 when a group of Puritan families from Virginia established
the settlement of Providence on the north bank of the Severn River. Within
a year a new county named after Lady Anne Arundel, the late wife of Cecil
Calvert, the second Lord of Baltimore, was established. I think this is the
only county named after a women and the only county with two names. By 1684
Anne Arundel Town was laid out on 100 acres across the Severn from Providence
and by 1694 the first royal assembly meeting under Governor Sir Francis Nicholson
designated the settlement on the south side of the river the new capital,
which was renamed Annapolis in 1695 in honor of Princess Anne, King James
II’s daughter and future queen of England.
The charter of 1708 makes Annapolis one of the oldest cities in the country.
In 1783 and 1784 Congress assembled in Annapolis, making it the first peacetime
capital of the United States. It is the oldest state capitol in continuous
legislative use. In the Old Senate Chamber, George Washington resigned his
commission as the commander in chief of the Continental Army, and Thomas
Jefferson accepted his position as the first United States minister plenipotentiary
to foreign governments.
The most significant event, however, took place Jan 14, 1784, when the Continental
Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris, officially ending the American Revolution.
If you allow for a full day in Annapolis, you will see most of the town and
get a good feel of the area. In the morning take in the Navel Academy
then lunch in one of many dining and drinking establishments many of which
are located in the City Dock area. Be sure to try the Maryland Blue Crab,
a specialty of the local area. Like the locals say, Annapolis is a
drinking town with a sailing problem. In the afternoon work off that lunch
by walking around downtown which has a wealth of specialty shops and boutiques,
historic sites that include houses, museums, cemeteries and the dock.
While walking the scenic grounds of the United States Navel Academy, known
as the Yard, the contrasts in architecture reflects the long and colorful
history of the academy. Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft established
the first Naval School at Fort Severn in Annapolis in 1845 and 50 students
attended classes taught by four officers and three civilian professors. In
1850 the Naval School became the United States Naval Academy, the undergraduate
college of the U.S. Navy. The current curriculum of four consecutive years
at Annapolis with at-sea training during the summer was also adopted in 1850.
The academy has expanded from ten acres to a 338-acre complex, from 50 midshipmen
to a brigade of 4,000 midshipmen, and from seven to 600 faculty members (military
and civilian). Nineteen academic majors are offered leading to a Bachelor
of Science degree for all graduates. I have two cousins, brothers that graduated
from the Academy. The older one went to Viet Nam and was a captain on a river
patrol boat. Several stories have been written about him, his crew and their
adventures. The younger brother went into the Marine Corps, went to Viet
Nam and then had a career as a jet pilot.
Touring the Yard. One of your stops will be at the Armel-Lefwich Visitor
Center. The center has an information center, interactive exhibits, and gift
shop. Continue walking to Bancroft Hall and Tecumseh Court. The Indian warrior
Tecumseh stands watch over the site of noon meal formations for the brigade
of midshipmen at 12:05 weekdays spring and fall.
A must stop is The Chapel. Referred to as the Cathedral of the Navy, the
chapel conducts Catholic and Protestant services which are open to the public.
Special concerts are given on the holidays and open to the public. The extraordinary
stained glass windows were designed by Tiffany and Gorham Studios.
The Crypt of John Paul Jones. One of the greatest Revolutionary War navel
heroes, Jones is enshrined beneath the Chapel with a posted honor guard on
duty. His remains, brought to America in 1905 after 113 years of obscurity
in a Parisian cemetery, were found by General Horace Porter, U.S. Ambassador
to France. Was he one of this country’s first guerrilla and terrorist fighter?
As captain of the “Ranger,” Jones scourged the British coasts in 1778, capturing
the man-of-war “Drake.” As captain of the “Bonhomme Richard” in 1779, he
intercepted a timber convoy and captured the British frigate “Serapis.”
In front of The Chapel is the Herndon Monument. During the plebe recognition
ceremony, plebes become fourth classmen by climbing Herndon Monument after
it is greased with 200 pounds of lard. Much fun I am sure!
You can then proceed to the U.S. Naval Academy Museum which has a collection
of more than 35,000 items including paintings, prints and artifacts depicting
naval history. If you are into models check out the Class of 1951 Gallery
of Ships. Ship models made of bone, gold and wood dating from the 17th century
to modern times are displayed in glass cases.
Hungry? Stop by the Officers’ and Faculty Club which is open to the public
Monday through Friday for lunch.
Across the street from the Academy is St. John’s College a four year liberal
arts school enrolling 500 students. The college received its charter in 1784,
succeeding the 1696 King William’s School. Francis Scott Key was among the
students of St. John’s.
In addition to its identity as a Navy center, Annapolis is distinguished
by its architecture – altogether, 1,300 buildings from 15 different architectural
styles earn Annapolis the title “A museum without walls,” The city has the
highest concentration of 18th-century Georgian-style buildings in the nation,
including the homes of all four Maryland signers of the Declaration of Independence.
The many public and private Colonial buildings in Annapolis exemplify the
life and architecture of the pre-Revolutionary period, often referred to
as the “Golden Age of Annapolis.”
The waterfront, which surrounds City Dock, is one of the best preserved in
the country. Historically this is the city’s front door, as Annapolis was
once an important seaport for trade with Great Britain, the West Indies and
West Africa. Today, recreational boaters and sailing schools have made the
city a major center for regattas, services and charters.