Annapolis perspectives History seminar delves into rich past of state capital region.

February 24, 1997

APPRECIATION OF local history is vital in giving a place its distinctive identity. In this respect, Annapolis is fortunate. Not only does Maryland's state capital boast a rich past that has been well documented since Colonial times, but the city is a horn of plenty of landmark buildings, relics and memorabilia.

The preservation of Annapolis was not predestined. Even though preservation was often on citizens' minds, it was largely an on-again, off-again proposition. It is truly a miracle that the downtown district is so intact because most successful preservation efforts did not start until after World War II.

Therein lies a story. John D. Rockefeller's first restoration choice in the 1920s was Annapolis. Only after he encountered fierce opposition from the local Chamber of Commerce did he turn his sights to Virginia's Williamsburg. The rest is history. Yet through the 1930s, many Annapolis activists thought the key to their city's preservation was the generosity of some plutocrat. With Rockefeller gone, someone proposed the Carnegie interests. "If each rich man would take a house to restore, it would solve the problem," one activist mused.

In the end, the preservation and restoration was done by numerous citizens, rich and not-so-rich. This shows that ordinary people have a role to play in continuing Annapolis traditions.

All this is worth mentioning because a number of local history groups are sponsoring a seminar that should be of interest to all Annapolitans who are curious about their city's past. Beginning Feb. 27 and continuing on Thursday mornings until April 24 at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., the seminar will cover the full range of Annapolis history from its earliest days to current and future tourism prospects.

Religion, decorative arts, archaeology and gardens are just some of the topics to be discussed by expert lecturers. At $5 a lecture (or $35 for the series), this is one of the better bargains in adult education. For more information, call 269-1737 or 263-5544. Annapolitans are lucky in that they are surrounded by so much history, regardless of whether they live in an old house or a modern residence. This series forges links to the past so that residents can appreciate their present hometown even more.

Pub Date: 2/24/97

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