Then and Now
Hammond-Harwood House, at 19 Maryland Ave., is the finest example of Georgian architecture in Annapolis and survives in an astonishingly untouched, undamaged state in its fourth century.
A young tobacco trader, Mathias Hammond, envisioned this house in 1772, and his vision still stands in rare form and precise detail. The outward appearance of the building is a centered main house with half-story 'hyphens' on each side and finished with two story wings on either end.
The architect was William Buckland, an English-trained joiner, who started work in Virginia in 1755. Mr. Buckland's "signature" was designing houses in a particular style known as academic. This was a high-end process as opposed to a vernacular style which was built to fit into the surrounding area and completed by local craftsmen and common laborers. Academic structures were unique designs and cost was never spared. For example, the crown molding in the Hammond-Harwood House is specific to each room. The downstairs study has a plain, straightforward design, while the guest quarters have great embellishment and detail. The windows are framed on the interior by foldaway shutters that reveal fine artistic carvings when opened. And the cartouches on the exterior are exceeded only by the front door. This door is proudly known as "The Most Beautiful Doorway in America". The carvings and patterns are truly the finest example of high caliber composition.
The Hammond-Buckland partnership was successful in producing an extraordinary structure, but it was oddly fated by the death of Mr. Buckland shortly after he designed the house. Then the financial demise of Mr. Hammond forced him to rent the property without ever living in it.
The death of the architect and the Revolutionary War make the exact dates of completion and residency murky. But the finished house is what we visit today. Unlike others, Hammond House was never redone or added to or damaged by storms or fire. The house is exactly what it always was.
Hammond's first resident was Jeremiah Chase. The Chase family came and went for the next 145 years. The Pinkney, Callahan and, by marriage, the Harwood families were the primary owners/residents until the death of Hester Anne Harwood in 1924. The comings and goings are documented by a priceless collection of paintings by the famous Peale family: Charles Willson, James, C.P. Polk and Rembrandt. There are a dozen paintings and portraits of former occupants in both full and miniature mode. Additionally, there are English paintings and a beautiful portrait of George Washington.
The furniture is primarily from the local cabinet maker, John Shaw. The chairs and tables have his signature eagle inlay and are absolutely pristine. Along with much of the furniture, silver and glassware have been donated back by local residents who acquired the artifacts from a 1925 auction.
St. John's College bought the Harwood House in 1925 for $47,000. It was used as both a decorative arts classroom and as a college fraternity house. St. John's was unable to maintain the house after the Depression and rented the property to the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland in 1938. This group finally purchased the house and remaining ¾ acre of land in 1940. This acquisition resulted in the formation of the Hammond-Harwood House Association and which, to date, manages and maintains this exquisite estate.
For more information, visit www.hammondharwoodhouse.org.