O. James Lighthizer finds a particular thrill in Tulip Hill, the 18th-century mansion off Muddy Creek Road. In the county executive's opinion, the Georgian brick building with the two arched chimneys is "the most magnificent building in Anne Arundel County. That's my favorite."
It's tops in his book, which in this case happens to be "Anne Arundel's Legacy -- The Historic Properties of Anne Arundel County." It was written and researched by Donna M. Ware, the county's historic sites planner, but in many ways it is Lighthizer's book. Without him and his assistant Robert Agee pushing for it, said Ware, it could not have been done.
The book -- which cost $50,000 to publish, not including the staff time -- was presented to the public at a reception Friday at the Arundel Center in Annapolis. There was wine, cheese, hors d'oeuvres and an award for Lighthizer from the Maryland Division of Historical and Cultural Programs.
Division director Rodney Little said the award recognizes that "under Lighthizer Anne Arundel County has become the best of any county government in the state" for work in historic preservation.
Ware is part of the reason for that, as is her husband, county archaeologist Al Luckenbach, who was recently made a permanent Planning Department employee. Lighthizer, who describes himself as a "history nut" with a particular penchant for 18th- and 19th-century architecture, said he pushed for the full-time archaeologist to go with the preservationist "so when we look now at a site a developer wants to rape we can look at it from both the historical and archaeological perspective. So we don't pave over our whole past."
"When people think of historic buildings in the county they think of Annapolis," said Ware. "There are others out there."
The Annapolis historic district, with more than 1,000 buildings, is one of 54 properties described in the book. The others include houses, churches, a tobacco barn, Thomas Point Lighthouse, taverns, even sailing vessels. The book includes a section on a Holly Hill in Friendship, near the Calvert County line, confirmed as the oldest home in Maryland. The house is dated through tree-ring analysis to 1698.
All 54 properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and some, including Tulip Hill and Whitehall, a full-temple portico mansion overlooking the Severn River, have been listed as National Historic Landmarks.
"We felt it would be best to have an inventory of listed properties," Lighthizer said. "That's important to ourselves, to our children. In a county that's changing so rapidly that's even more important."
Ware said she started writing the book two years ago, although the book represents the culmination of much of the preservation work she's been doing since she joined the county in 1983.
The county is offering 3,000 soft-cover books at $11.95 each, 1,000 hard-cover books for $24.95 each. Book sale proceeds go to the Annarundel County Trust for Preservation Inc., a non-profit historic preservation organization. The organization aims to create a grant program to benefit preservation projects throughout the county.
Books are available through the county Office of Planning and Zoning, the Anne Arundel County Historical Society, the Historic Annapolis Foundation and the Shady Side Rural Heritage Society.