Facebook Page
Historic Annapolis By Robin Bowers

Amtrak from the East Coast to the West Coast; 

from Sea to Shining Sea.

By Robin Bowers,  Comments Welcomed.

Chapter 2:  Historic Annapolis

September 23, 2008


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.

Bancroft Hall
City Dock

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.

For more information:


Maryland Office of Tourism Development

Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau:

26 West St.
Annapolis, MD 21401
410-280-0445 or 888-302-2852

[ Top of this Report: Amtrak from the East Coast to the West Coast;  from Sea to Shining Sea.  | 

Top of this page | Chapter 3 - (Coming Soon) Touring and favorite sites in Washington DC |

  Links for this report will be added when report is complete. ]

[ Depot Inn & Suites, La Plata, MO | Silver Rails Resort | Other Rail Travelogues on | ]