The City That Kneads?

January 28, 1994

Last year was designated as the Year of American Craft. That was appropriate because never before has the nation's crafts movement been as varied or popular as it is these days.

Literally millions of people are involved in endeavors such as quilting, embroidery, jewelry-making and pottery. Indeed, it seems that an interest in one craft quickly spawns an interest in another medium. This cross-fertilization of ideas can readily be seen at local bead bazaars and other such forums.

This heightened interest in crafts will now have a focal point in Annapolis.

Bob and Genevieve McWilliams, owners of Annapolis Pottery, have acquired the 150-year-old Bond Hotel at State Circle and Francis Street, across from the State House. They plan to renovate the building, which most recently served as headquarters for the YWCA of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, as a potter's studio and sales outlet. Over its long history, the building has had a variety of eclectic uses. It was once a railroad ticket office, a saloon, even a brothel.

For years, the McWilliamses dreamed about acquiring such a centrally located landmark. Their wish came true when the YMCA decided to move to more spacious quarters in Arnold. The price was right as a result of a dramatic drop in Annapolis real estate values.

The McWilliamses' plans call for restoring the building's hardwood floors and installing a Victorian-style tin ceiling. They hope to rent out the second floor as office space.

We welcome this development. A visible crafts location like this is likely to draw more customers to State Circle and Maryland Avenue businesses. And, because many of the existing merchants are crafts-oriented or specialize in antiques, this will be a nice fit and will strengthen the area.

It will be good to have the new shop in the heart of Annapolis, but it could also be so much more.

The McWilliamses do not currently plan to offer their kiln to outsiders or to conduct classes. Yet these are the kinds of activities that would be ideal and would increase Anne Arundel residents' interest in pottery and other crafts. The model for this could be Baltimore Clayworks, a Mount Washington center which has acquired regional importance as work and exhibit space.

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