Annapolis: History on every corner (cont.)
The Hammond-Harwood house furnishings include the work of artesian John Shaw, the prominent 18th century cabinetmaker whose work is sought after by museums and historic homes.
Of particular interest is the Shaw secretary desk, labeled 1783, that is twin to a matching piece that resides in the White House.
A “best” room is located just off the front hallway. The cornice work identifies this as a public or receiving room.
Prominently displayed is a four-posted bed with ornate bed hangings. Ms. Denis explains how the room was used not so much as a sleeping chamber though it may have occasionally been used for overnight guests.
Instead the bed, and more importantly the draping, was placed in this room as a very ostentatious display of the homeowners wealth and good taste.
The looking glass covered with netting offers another glimpse into colonial life. The room’s windows would have been opened during the warmer months, so residents netted the mirrors to keep bugs from spotting them.
Several more Charles Willson Peale paintings and John Shaw pieces can be found in the home. Among them a marvelous grandfather clock that is original to the home.
Our next door leads to the William Paca house, pictured on page one. Historian Glen Campbell greets us in the homes front hall, or reception area.
The house was begun in 1763 and reflects the influence of a Georgian country villa.
A state delegate to the first two Continental Congresses, a senator and judge William Paca also signed the Declaration of Independence.
It was, however, Paca’s marriage to the wealthy Mary Chew that allowed him to build this five part brick house that consists of a central block flanked by two one-story passageways and dual two-story wings.
The estate is well known for its two-acre pleasure garden featuring five terraces, a fish-shaped pond, and a wilderness garden.
Furnished with a fine collection of antique furniture, silver, and decorative arts, the museum’s changing exhibits highlight different aspects of everyday life in the 1760s and 1770s.
Restoring the Paca House kitchen involved opening the bricked-in fireplace and revealing the drainage system, used to drain kitchen waste away. Archaeologists also found trash pits containing artifacts of many everyday 18th century objects.
In a bit of a colonial time-warp, counters are set up as if ready for the house slaves to step in to do some baking or prepare the meats, fish and vegetables for dinner.
A “Clock-Jack” reproduction piece shows colonial ingenuity, turning the fireplace meat spit using a clock gear and counter-weight system, instead of a person with a manual spit and singed eyebrows.
Fun to learn about is how coals from the main fire would be pulled out across the stone floor. A spider, or three-legged iron trivet placed over the coals would be used to warm vegetables or soups.
Hidden behind the William Paca house are the formal, terraced gardens, pictured above.
In the distance the green-hued copper U.S.N.A. Chapel dome stands above the tree line. Standing in the breeze, you can imagine beautifully dressed ladies strolling the garden while children romp across the grassy areas and men play games of the era – croquet and bocce.
Next is a modern day traveler’s stop, The Annapolis Inn at 144 Prince George Street.
A luxury bed and breakfast, The Annapolis Inn was the home of Dr. James Murray, Thomas Jefferson’s personal physician.