(Gardens are free, $5 admission to house)
The Hammond-Harwood House is thought by many to be one of America’s finest examples of colonial architecture. The building demonstrates the flair and grace of the late Georgian style, built in 1774 for patriot and planter Mathias Hammond. The architect, William Buckland, died before the interior details were completed, but his genius is apparent in the graceful design. Buckland’s great-grandson, William Harwood, purchased the home in the mid-19 Century and his heirs occupied the home until 1924, when it was sold at public auction. Subsequently, St. John’s College purchased and restored the structure and sold it to the Hammond-Harwood House Association in 1940. The Association continues to maintain the house today as a museum.
According to literature available at the site, in 1960, the Hammond-Harwood House was among the first American buildings to be designated a National Historic Landmark.
Literature is available at the main entrance showing detailed information about the garden’s trees, shrubs, herbs and ground covers. Just ask. Of particular note are the very old English boxwoods at the rear of the garden. It is speculated that the original planting of these boxwoods was in a heart-shaped design. There is also a screen of southern magnolias behind the boxwoods. Be sure to notice the herb garden area to the right.
The earlest gardens at grand homes such as this were probably devoid of trees. They favored symmetrical layouts with all sorts of interesting spice gardens, flowering shrubs, fruit trees and other unusual specimens, with the garden edged with boxwoods. As the years went by the trees grew to the point that they often overwhelmed all but the boxwoods. So this garden is probably close to the original design with its focus on symmetry in the gardens.
Directly across the street from the Hammond Harwood House you will see the stately Chase-Lloyd House.
Samuel Chase was an interesting figure in Maryland history. Not only was he one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence, but Samuel Chase was also appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by George Washington, in 1796. There he contributed to a number of important cases, including one that asserted priority of federal treaties over state statutes, and another that helped to restrict government’s authority through the principle we now call “due process of law”.
Married in 1762, Samuel Chase immediately made plans to build a new home in Annapolis. Construction began in 1769, but by 1771 Samuel Chase decided he could not afford to complete the ambitious project. He sold the unfinished house to a wealthy plantation owner from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Edward Lloyd IV. According to Elizabeth Anderson in (©1984), Lloyd IV was known as “Edward the Magnificant” for enjoying such an opulent life style. He was said to be rowed across Chesapeake Bay to his new home in Annapolis. It was here, in 1802, that Edward’s youngest daughter married Francis Scott Key, author of the Star Spangled Banner.
Subsequently the house was sold back to the Chase family, where in 1886, Mrs. Samuel Ridout (a niece), died leaving the house to the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. In her will, Mrs. Ridout stipulated the property be used as a home for elderly ladies needing to find “a retreat from the vicissitudes of life”. The Chase House foundation continues to oversee the home today, opening the lower floor to the public.
Much of the garden is visible from Maryland Avenue. To the right of the main entrance, just inside the fence are well-tended roses and peonies. To the left of the entrance is a large Japanese pagoda tree. This tree blooms in late summer with blossoms of yellow-white in loose showy clusters. The name refers to its oriental origin where it is often planted around temples. A linden graces the corner at King George.
For the next site, turn left onto King George Street and continue to College Avenue. Turn left at College Avenue. St. John’s College will be on the corner on your right.
Last updated on November 20, 2001.
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