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Annapolis was founded in 1649 and by the 1700s, had evolved into a political and administrative capital for the country. It was the capital of the United States in 1783–1784. It was where George Washington resigned his commission as commander of the Continental Army. It was also where the Treaty of Paris was ratified, thus ending the American Revolutionary War, with Great Britain finally recognizing the United States as an independent nation.
During this era, Annapolis was a bustling seaport and tragically, also a major center for the Atlantic slave trade. One boat carried an adolescent named Kunta Kinte from Gambia who was immortalized in Alex Haley’s book, Roots. Reference
As nearby Washington and Baltimore grew in stature in the 1800s, Annapolis became something of a backwater. The shellfish industry expanded, however, as watermen took greater and greater advantage of a Bay teeming with oyster and blue crab. By the late Victorian era, vessels and trains ferried urban dwellers to beach resorts along the Chesapeake Bay, far away from the sweltering city heat. Racial snubs by staff working at the Bay Ridge on the Chesapeake Resort motivated Major Charles Douglas, the son of former slave and famed abolitionist, Frederick Douglas, to found Maryland’s first incorporated African American town. Ironically, the community was situated a mere inlet away and just down the beach from the very resort that had once refused him service.
Later in the 20th century, smugglers and prohibition booze-runners proliferated. Summer beach havens sprung up as did a yacht-building industry that became the envy of the country. In the late 1960s, to protect the town’s historic buildings in old town Annapolis from being razed, a group of citizens formed Historic Annapolis. Today, Annapolis is a repository for architectural styles ranging from Colonial, Georgian and Early Republic to late Victorian. The old town, designated a National Registered Historic Landmark District, boasts more pre-Revolutionary 1776 structures than any other city in America. Four of those structures – all stately homes – once housed signers of the Declaration of Independence, (William Paca, Thomas Stone, Samuel Chase, and Charles Carroll). Another was owned by the aunt of Francis Scott Key, the composer of our national anthem, who was a frequent visitor to the city.
Nowadays, between the boating crowd, uniformed midshipmen from the Naval Academy and college students studying the classics at St. John’s College (America’s 3rd oldest college), Annapolis still retains a certain timeless charm rarely matched anywhere else.
Maryland Avenue by night
Photo by Deacon Ritterbush
Listen to Hawaii Public Radio Interview with Deacon Ritterbush
"At IBCs I get to spend time with wonderful people who share the same love of the sea and all its treasures..."