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Nobody Asked Me, But...
Hotel History: Historic Inns of Annapolis (1727), Annapolis, Maryland*

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

In the center of Annapolis, three historic inns have been combined to comprise the Historic Inns of Annapolis. They are the Maryland Inn, the Governor Calvert House, and the Robert Johnson House as well as the Treaty of Paris restaurant and the King of France Tavern.

The Maryland Inn

The Maryland Inn was built in 1776 as private residence by Thomas Hyde, a respected merchant and civic leader. When he advertised it for sale in 1782, 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 this 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 is 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 proprietors 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 and to provide 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 acquired it and proposed plans for its restoration and 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 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. All three inns underwent a multimillion dollar renovation of their guestrooms and key public areas in 2006.

In 2005, Annapolis was named one of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Historic Inns of Annapolis are designated as Historic Hotels of America.

*excerpted from my book Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (AuthorHouse 2013)

Return to Historic Inns of Annapolis

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About Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Stanley_Turkel_3.jpgStanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion, greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Stanley Turkel is one of the most widely-published authors in the hospitality field. Two of his hotel books have been promoted, distributed and sold by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry and Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi). A third hotel book (Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York) was called "passionate and informative" by The New York Times. His fourth hotel book was described by The New York Times: "Nostalgia for the City's caravansaries will be kindled by Stanley Turkel's...fact-filled...Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt and Oscar of the Waldorf."

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Built to Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi is available for purchase from the publisher by visiting bookstore.authorhouse.com.

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