Annapolis, Maryland was the capitol of America from November of 1783 through August of 1784, the first peacetime capitol and the only state house that served as America’s capitol. It is the oldest state house still in continuous legislative use and was the site of both George Washington’s resignation as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in December of 1783 and the ratification of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War in January of 1784.
The original State House was built in 1735 and renovated in 1876-1877, with an annex built in 1905, identified by the black strip of flooring on the first floor. There were significant update in 1940 and an additional, thorough restoration project in 2014. Today, construction continues at the front entrance, in the old Treasury Building, and across the street with the Department of Legislative Services building. The first floor of the State House remains open to visitors for self guided tours, and several interactive exhibits are engaging for visitors of all ages!
Ten Places to Explore at the State House:
- The House of Delegates Chamber: A recreation of the original chamber from 1876, the room is the site of the ratifications of the Maryland Constitution of 1864 and also includes bronze statues of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, heroic native Marylanders.
- The Caucus Room: Part of the original 1779 State House, it is now used for Senate meetings outside of Senate sessions. The room also showcases pieces from the USS Maryland silver service. (red room)
- The Rotunda, built between 1772-1779, with the wooden dome- the largest in North America- added a few years later. Under the dome is the display of George Washington’s Resignation Speech from December 23, 1783, considered to be one of the most important documents in American history.
- The original Senate Chamber, used from 1779-1905 and now restored to the way it looked when Washington resigned. Make sure to look up in the gallery to see the statue of Molly Ridout, who documented the ceremony.
- The Archives Room, Stairwell Room, and Senate Committee Room which have interactive exhibits featuring Visitors to the Dome and the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary Way (one of only 13 copies of the original). The exhibit also includes portraits of individuals who witnessed Washington’s resignation (there were 21 members of Congress present), and heroes and leaders of the Revolutionary War. Also on display are the swords belonging to Lt. Colonel Tench Tilghman, trusted aide to Washington during the Revolutionary War.
- A rotating exhibit. In 2023, the exhibit is In Freedom’s Name, which honors African American Marylanders in various military battles from the Colonial era through the Vietnam War.
- The Senate Chamber, where 47 senators (1 per district in the state), seated by seniority and political party, convene for 90 days starting in mid January each year through mid April. Check out the Tiffany skylight!
- The House Chamber, where 141 delegates (3 per district in the state), have been convening since 1906. The House Chamber is the largest room in the State House and has a 40 foot Tiffany skylight and portraits of former Speakers of the House.
Looking for other adventures in Annapolis? Check out our post featuring the Annapolis Maritime Museum and US Naval Academy. And check out our posts featuring the State Houses of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Colorado, Wyoming. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.