Historic Inns of Annapolis
The Historic Inns of Annapolis comprise three historic buildings, each with its own character and history. The Maryland Inn, the Governor Calvert House, and the Robert Johnson House each tell a fascinating story of Maryland history.
In 1772, Thomas Hyde, a respected merchant and civic leader, acquired a long-term lease on a lot on State Circle. Hyde had the front part of what is now the Maryland Inn constructed on the lot. In 1782, Hyde advertised it for sale. It was described as "an elegant brick house adjoining Church Circle in a dry and healthy part of the city, this House is one hundred feet front, three story height, has 20 fireplaces and is one of the first houses in the state for a house of entertainment."
In 1784, Sarah Ball, who had become the historic inn’s manager, advertised that she "[...] has opened a tavern at the house formerly kept by her, fronting Church (now Duke of Gloucester) Street; and having supplied herself with everything necessary and convenient, she solicits the favors of her old customers and the public in general [...]."
The inn remained a popular place for lodging throughout the 19th century. It was acquired by the Maryland Hotel Company in 1868 and remained the most prominent Annapolis hotel and the favorite rendezvous for important national state and military visitors. By World War I, the historic inn’s facilities were outmoded and many of its rooms were converted into offices and apartments.
There were several owners over the next several decades, and in 1953, owners who appreciated the inn’s importance in Maryland’s history acquired the hotel and began a restoration designed to preserve its Colonial design but provide it with modern amenities.
Governor Calvert House
The house originally built at 58 State Circle was a one-and-a-half story structure with a gambrel roof. Its earliest occupant, Charles Calvert, was cousin to the fifth lord Baltimore and governor of Maryland from 1720-1727.
In 1764 much of the building was destroyed by fire, and the Calverts moved to the country. The remains of the house were incorporated into a two-story Gregorian-style building that was used until 1784 as barracks by the state of Maryland.
Between 1800 and 1854 the property changed hands three times until the mayor of Annapolis, Abram Claude, purchased it. Claude enlarged the building and endowed it with Victorian features.
The house was privately owned through the 1900s until Paul Pearson purchased it and proposed plans for its restoration expansion into a large historic inn. His collaboration with Historic Annapolis led to the archaeological research that uncovered several architectural features of the original building. One of the most remarkable is the hypocaust, or greenhouse heating system, that was discovered in the basement of the building.
The Robert Johnson House
In 1772, an Annapolis barber by the name of Robert Johnson purchased town lot #73, and in 1773, his grandson built the brick house that still stands at 23 State Circle. The main brick house remained with Johnson heirs until around 1856. A portion of the lot was sold in 1808 to Elizabeth Thompson, who probably built the frame house at 1 School Street.
The third building on the lot, 5 School Street, was a two-story frame house built between 1790-1792 by Archibald Chisolm, who kept the property until 1811.
In 1880 William H. Bellis purchased the Johnson house and opened a tailor shop facing Main Street. He died in 1902, leaving 23 State Circle to his daughter Maud Morrow. She acquired 1 and 5 School Street, and converted the building into the Morrow Apartments. Later the Historic Inns purchased the property and converted it into a historic hotel in Annapolis.
Since 1784, when Annapolis served as the nation's first peacetime capital under George Washington, the Historic Inns of Annapolis has been the location for the historic Maryland Inn, a popular lodging place for statesman, governors, and presidents throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.
Delegates of the 1783-1784 U.S. Congress stayed at the inn when George Washington resigned in Annapolis as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army and ratified the Treaty of Paris.