Issues of Race and Class in Historic Preservation

I recently had a tour of two historic homes of Annapolis, Maryland: the Governor Calvert House and the Maynard-Burgess House.  These two homes are polar opposites when it comes to historic preservation.  One was home to a former wealthy European American governor of Maryland, the other was continuously owned by two African-American families.  One has become a historic hotel next to the Maryland State House (the oldest state capitol used continuously since 1772) while the other has sat vacant since 1990 waiting to become a museum or public garden inviting the public to learn about the rich history of African Americans of Annapolis.

Unless it is set up to generate money, it takes quite a bit of money to preserve a historic home.  In a place like Annapolis, the whole city is set up for preservation through the Historic Annapolis Foundation.  For over fifty years this amazing foundation has preserved nearly 400 buildings partly by raising funds to purchase historic properties.  The Historic Annapolis Foundation petitioned funding from the State of Maryland and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to pay for resurfacing the sidewalks and placing utility lines underground to preserve the historic look of Annapolis at a cost of millions of dollars.  Yet, why is there no money for the preservation of the Maynard-Burgess House?

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Tour of the Paca Garden and Carroll Estate

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the William Paca Garden and the Charles Carroll of Carrolton House and Garden, both located in Historic Annapolis, Maryland. William Paca and Charles Carroll were two of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence and were important men of their day. They lived on grand estates and their gardens were the very definition of formal gardens built along the East Coast of the original thirteen colonies starting in the 18th century. The Paca Garden is an example of what is known as descent or falling gardens, designed following the rules of perspective and creating optical illusions. 18th century garden books informed the wealthy how to properly construct these gardens according to baroque rules giving the gardens a three-dimensional space of moving from large to small, controlled gardens to wilderness. I will discuss my personal tour of both properties by Dr. Mark Leone, historical archaeologist, professor in the department of Anthropology at University of Maryland, College Park, and director of Archaeology in Annapolis project since 1981.

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