Along the Chesapeake: Exploring Annapolis and the Eastern Shore


April 25 – 28, 2019

Established in 1649, Annapolis was originally named “Providence” by the Puritan exiles who settled this captivating landscape on the Chesapeake. The city hosted several important events in American history, including meetings of Congress and Washington’s resignation from command of the Continental Army in 1783. Annapolis is also home to the nation’s oldest capitol building, which served as the setting for the Constitutional Convention and the ratification of the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War. Participants enjoy a comprehensive introduction to Maryland history through the region’s extraordinary variety of collections, historic structures, and culture.


ITINERARY  (subject to amendment)

Thursday, April 25

Maryland State House

  • The Golden Age of Annapolis
    Mark Letzer, Executive Director, Maryland Historical Society
  • Opening Reception in the State House Rotunda

Friday, April 26

Annapolis Waterfront Hotel Ballroom

  • Welcome
    • “Made Easy for the Meanest Capacity.” The Library of William Buckland
      Paul Koch, Collector and Independent Scholar
    • “The Idea of Making Pictures”: Charles Willson Peale in Annapolis
      Rachel Lovett, Curator, Hammond-Harwood House
    • “For the purpose of building a dwelling house:” The James Brice House
      Matt Webster, Director, Grainger Department of Architectural Preservation and Research, Colonial Williamsburg
  • Lunch at Annapolis Waterfront Hotel
  • Our afternoon tours explore three distinct and important historic houses in Annapolis. At the 1774 Hammond-Harwood House, members examine highlights of the collection with Curator Rachel Lovett, including 21 pieces of John Shaw furniture and 17 works of art by the Peale family. The Anglo-Palladian mansion was designed by English born architect William Buckland and modeled after Andrea Palladio’s Villa Pisani in Montagna, Italy.
  • The nearby Paca House is a Georgian mansion that was built in the 1760s for William Paca, one of Maryland’s four signers of the Declaration of Independence and the state’s third Governor. Our tour delves into the fine furnishings and how they reflected the owner’s status in the Colonial period.
  • Participants receive an in-depth look at the restoration process of the imposing 1767 James Brice House, where a major preservation effort is underway to restore the structure to its 18th-century grandeur. The home features a stunning mahogany staircase and lavishly decorated drawing room. This intimate tour allows members to peer beyond the sawdust to learn about the people who built the house, those who lived and worked there, and the craftsmen restoring it today.

Saturday, April 27

Miller Senate Office Building

  • John A.H. Sweeney Emerging Scholar Lecture
    Seized Possessions: Reconstructing Maryland’s First Governor’s Mansion
    Michelle Fitzgerald, Assistant Curator, Homewood Museum, John Hopkins
  • The Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lecture
    The State House at Annapolis: Preserving and Interpreting Maryland’s 
    National Treasure
    Elaine Rice Bachmann
    , Deputy State Archivist, Maryland State Archives
  • Following our morning lectures, we have the opportunity to participate in workshops at the Maryland State House and the Hammond-Harwood House in addition to an exploration of the Chase Lloyd House.
    • At the landmark Maryland State House, Elaine Rice Bachmann and Catherine Rogers Arthur, Senior Curator & Director for the Commission on Artistic Property share treasures of the State’s art collection as well as the newly-restored historic chambers.
    • A short walk down Maryland Avenue, members are treated to two behind-the-scenes workshops at the Hammond-Harwood House. Decorative Painter Betsy Greene discusses her work on the front door of the mansion, which has been called the most beautiful doorway in America, and demonstrates 18th-century graining techniques. Meanwhile, Rachel Lovett examines the life and craftsmanship of 18th-century Annapolis cabinetmaker John Shaw. Her workshop includes an up close and personal view into the construction and inlay of six key pieces in the collection.
    • Directly across the street, participants enjoy a decorative arts and architectural tour of the Chase Lloyd House (1769-74), one of the first three-story Georgian mansion to be built in the American Colonies. Though the house was restored and updated for modern use many times, it has remained true to its initial design.
  • Following the first workshop, participants return for Lunch at the Miller Senate Office Building
  • Workshops resume

Sunday, April 28

Annapolis Waterfront Hotel Ballroom

  • Music and Musical Instruments of Colonial Annapolis
    David Hildebrand, Director, The Colonial Music Institute
  • Divided Maryland: Stories of Enslavement and Freedom
    Elisabeth Mallin, The Decorative Arts Trust Associate Curator, Maryland Historical Society
  • Vestiges of Magnificence: Documented Furnishings from the Grand Colonial South
    Ralph Harvard, Principal, Ralph Harvard Inc.
  • Symposium concludes


Thursday Optional Tour: A Day Out in Talbot County

Thursday, April 25

9:00am – 5:00pm

Join us for an exploration of four architectural treasures of Talbot County, Maryland, as we are accompanied by renowned architectural historians Ralph Harvard and Matt Webster.

Our day begins at White Hall, 1764-69, which was begun as a glorious plaything, a garden pavilion across the river from Annapolis for Governor Horatio Sharp. In the form of a Roman temple, with a rare full-height portico in the Corinthian order, the center section holds a sumptuous cube room with soaring cove ceiling and extravagant decorations.  After many years of neglect, the house was restored in the 1960s. The dwelling and associated outbuildings still retain many original features and details.

Designated as a historic landmark in 1970, Wye House, located in rural Talbot County was built in 1781–1784 and is a superb wood-frame Southern plantation house. The Wye plantation was settled in the 1650s by Edward Lloyd, a Welsh Puritan and wealthy planter, and is a noted example of the transition between Georgian and Federal architecture, attributed to builder Robert Key. The orangery, a rare survival of an early garden structure where orange and lemon trees were cultivated, still contains its original 18th-century heating system. During its peak, the plantation surrounding the house encompassed 42,000 acres and housed over 1,000 slaves. Though the land has shrunk to 1,300 acres today. Frederick Douglass spent a few years of his life on the plantation, around the ages of seven and eight, and spoke extensively of the brutal conditions of the plantation in his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.

Hope House is a historic dwelling located near Easton. It is a seven-part brick mansion. The central block is the original, Federal portion, built around 1800. Regarded as one of the grandest houses on the Eastern Shore, it served as the home of illustrious members of the Tilghman and Lloyd families resided here.

We end our day at a splendid private collection before heading back to Annapolis for the opening lecture and reception.

Sunday Optional Tour:  An Exploration of a Colonial Port City

Sunday, April 28

  • We depart by coach to visit charming Chestertown, stopping first for lunch at a local institution, the Fish Whistle.
  • Founded in 1706, Chestertown rose to prominence as one of the English colony of Maryland’s six Royal Ports of Entry. The economy created by the shipping industry transformed this small port town into a bustling center. The prosperous merchant class that benefited from this business boom is still evident today through the many brick mansions and townhouses that are lined along the waterfront.
  • Our group disembarks for walking tours of four distinct and important locations, all located near the historic Washington College. Founded in 1782, this private liberal arts school was the first college chartered following the Revolution and was supported by George Washington. At the privately owned Widehall, participants encounter a grand 1769 Georgian mansion that served as the home for Maryland’s former governor Robert Wright.
  • The Custom House is a 1746 Georgian house, originally belonging to Thomas Ringgold, a leader of the local Sons of Liberty who was also – in stark contrast – one of the most active slave traders in the Chesapeake region. The house has served many purposes over the years such as a warehouse, store, and even as a military post where British redcoats were quartered during the French and Indian War.
  • Our next stop takes us to the c. 1743 Hynson-Ringgold House. The initial construction began in 1743 for Dr. William Murray, who then sold the entire property in 1767 to Thomas Ringgold.  Ringgold, a prominent lawyer and businessman, oversaw the remodeling and expansion that resulted in a house three times larger than the original residence and was considered the most lovely and impressive house in Chestertown.
  • We receive special access to the President’s Office at Washington College, which features an impressive 18th-century overmantel painting. Among the most detailed surviving portrayals of an 18th-century Chesapeake landscape, including African American slaves. We proceed on a short walking tour of the historic campus to Summer Hall, one of only two African American Civil War veterans’ posts surviving in the United States. The recently restored site explores the lives of African Americans of the Colonial Eastern Shore of Maryland, the native soil of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, among others.
  • Our day concludes with a memorable closing reception at Washington College.

Registration is limited.


Fundraiser for the Emerging Scholars Program at John Ridout House

Saturday, April 27


We are honored by the kind invitation to visit the privately owned John Ridout House, which has descended in the family of the builder for over 250 years. The handsomely proportioned and refined dwelling was built 1764-65 for John Ridout, secretary to Maryland Governor Horatio Sharpe, and, later, a member of the Governor’s Council. Ridout and his wife, Mary Ogle, entertained Maryland’s high society and even had the honor of hosting George Washington. The house has been little changed over the years and contains numerous family pieces that have been handed down over generations. 

Please join us for a wonderful evening of connoisseurship and conviviality as we toast to our host’s hospitality and lend support to the Trust’s efforts to encourage the next generation of curators and academics through a growing series of grants, scholarships, and internships. In 2018, more than four dozen graduate students and young professionals benefitted from the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program.

Registration is limited.

  • The Annapolis Waterfront Hotel
    Special Room Rates: Traditional $249. The Trust has reserved a block of rooms for April 24-28. These rooms are available on a first-come first-served basis until March 25. Please make your reservations as soon as possible to ensure availability by calling 410.268.7555 and referencing the Decorative Arts Trust 2019 Symposium.
  • The hotel is a 30-minute drive from Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) by taxi or airport shuttle. If driving, valet parking is available for $26 per day and general parking for $15 per day.
Terms and Conditions

By registering for this symposium, I/we do hereby release The Decorative Arts Trust from any and all liability in connection with the symposium, Annapolis and the Eastern Shore, for any loss, delay, injury, or damage to or in respect to any person or property however the cause for arising. It is understood that The Decorative Arts Trust has acted as agent for me/us in providing means of transportation or other services and The Decorative Arts Trust is not to be held responsible for any act, omission, or event during the time I am/we are participating in this program, and this evidences my/our understanding that The Decorative Arts Trust has not now, nor will have in the future, any liability to me/us due to any consequences arising out of said program or in connection with said program.

Cancellation and Refund:
All cancellations received prior to January 31 are subject to a full refund less a $50 administrative fee per person. Participants cancelling between January 31 and March 14 will receive a 50% refund. Refunds will not be made after March 14.


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