Visiting the Maryland State House in Annapolis allows guests to take a look at a building where some of the most important documents in history were forged.
The first cornerstone was laid in 1772, although the state house took many years to complete, due to financial hardships as well as architectural issues. It was finally completed in 1797.
Self guided Tours - Below is a selection of what to make sure to see during a tour:
Archives Room - It is recommended that guests start here when they begin a tour of the state house, as the self guided tour brochures are located here. There are also exhibits about the actual state house building itself, the State Circle, and how they have evolved since they were built. The Archives Room is itself a fireproof room (with a brick floor) to insure the preservation of the state records held inside.
The Rotunda - From the Archives Room, guests should into the rotunda. This is the very center of the original state house and the wooden dome that was added around 1785 is still the biggest of its kind in North America. Make sure to check out the personal copy of George Washington’s speech that he gave when he resigned command of the Continental Army as Commander in Chief, which is located directly below the wooden dome in a glass case. This document is considered the fourth most important American historical document by leading historians.
The Old Senate Chamber - Restored to its 1783 appearance, the chamber is arranged in the historically accurate way that it looked during Congressional events at this time. The statute of George Washington faces the dais where the Congressional President (Thomas Mifflin) would have sat. Molly Ridout watches from above in the “Ladies Balcony,” as women could not be present on the floor.
Senate Committee/Stairwell Rooms - Both rooms feature brand new and interactive exhibits that focus on the events in Congress from 1783 to 1784. They also discuss some of the important people in Annapolis during the 18th century and the role they played in Congress at that time. Make sure to check out the portraits of William Pitt (over the Old Senate Chamber fireplace) and Washington, Lafayette, and Tilghman (Committee Room), both painted by Charles Peale.
Old House of Delegates Chamber - Directly across the hall is the Delegates Chamber, which has been recreated to late 19th century historical accuracy (guided by documents and photographs from the Archives). The room focuses on the important historical changes that happened at that time - like the Jews being given the right to serve in public office, slavery’s abolition, and the state Constitution being written.
The state house is open from 9am to 5pm.
Due to the nature of the building, special events may be held on site only if they are state functions. All requests must be made through the State House Trust and events will be approved only if they meet a certain set of criteria. Contact the Trust with the following information for consideration (all information must be provided): nature/theme of event, number of people expected, who is invited/criteria for invitation, date/time, floor plan, menu/name/address/phone number of caterer and statement that commits to paying for any damages. No hot food can be prepared on the premises, and smoking and alcohol are strictly prohibited. Attendance can be no more than 300 people and clean up is the responsibility of whoever is throwing the event. There must also be a prepared guest list provided to the Secretary at least one week in advance. Photography must also be approved.
For teachers who are considering using the state house for a teaching opportunity, the first recommendation is to spend some time at the Teaching American History (in Maryland) website that is linked through the official state house website. The website provides information to help educators teach history from kindergarten through senior year. For teachers looking to reserve a tour of the state house, they should contact the Legislative Tour department through either their website or their office phone. Due to the new occupancy restrictions on the state house, all tours and field trips must be reserved in advance to ensure access to all the exhibits as well as the ability for all students to tour at the same time. In certain circumstances, classes may even be able to witness a live session. Come prepared with a lesson plan to make sure all state standards are being met by the visit.
Maryland State House, 100 State Circle, Annapolis, MD, 21401, Phone: 410-260-6445
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