Marking 350 years of history

Celebration: A year of activities will celebrate Anne Arundel County's beginnings.

January 07, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Annapolis and Anne Arundel County have planned a year filled with cultural activities to commemorate the region's humble Puritan beginnings.

Celebrate 350 Annapolis and Anne Arundel will help residents and visitors look back at the events and people who have shaped the county and state capital with programs designed to entertain as well as educate.

"I think history can be exciting," said Linell Bowen, executive director of Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts who serves on the Celebrate 350 steering committee. "I think this 350 is going to bring it alive for our kids."

The events started at First Night Annapolis last week, when organizers passed out birthday cake to New Year's Eve revelers and gave a short presentation about early settlers. The celebration continues with an art exhibit that opens tomorrow at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts on Chase Street in Annapolis and later this month with an eight-week lecture series.

The art exhibit will include contemporary paintings and photographs of scenes from Annapolis and the county from different periods. The lecture series will cover topics such as preservation, artists, architecture, wars and archaeology and tie in musical and theatrical performances.

Other events will highlight historic moments such as George Washington resigning his commission at the Maryland State House after the Revolutionary War. But it will also pay tribute to the contributions of indentured servants and contemporary African-American families.

Events include a poster contest for schoolchildren, a dance for adults and tours of historic homes throughout the county.

"The history isn't highways and all these other things, it's people." Bowen said. "I hope this will help people from north county, south county, east and west all come together."

Events planned for the celebration include:

The Passport to History, a booklet with descriptions of 18 historic sites in the county. The passports will be distributed through schools, visitor centers and outlets. Visitors to the sites will have their pages stamped, and passport holders who visit every site will be eligible for prizes and drawings.

A re-enactment of the Battle of the Severn at St. John's College in April. The skirmish in 1655 between Puritan settlers and Gov. William Stone's forces was the first clash between Englishmen on the North American continent -- hinting at the tensions that would fuel the Revolutionary War.

An Independence Day historical pageant at Maryland Hall with actors portraying characters from different periods in the county's history.

Puritans from Virginia moved to Maryland by invitation from the second Lord Baltimore, Cecil Calvert, who hoped they would sign an oath of allegiance to him and help him stabilize control over the colony. They settled at what is now Greenbury Point in December 1649, calling their settlement Providence, and began tobacco farming.

Less than a year later, Lord Baltimore granted Anne Arundel County its charter, naming it after his wife, the Lady Anne Arundel.

By 1694, the population had shifted across the river to an area settlers called Arundelton, and Gov. Francis Nicholson moved the capital from St. Mary's City to the more central location, renaming it Annapolis after Princess Anne, who later became queen of England and granted Annapolis its charter.

"The goal is to bring history alive for everyone," said Jeff Holland, who is organizing events. "At first, you think it's just silly people walking around in pilgrim clothes, but soon you get to see these are real people with very strong feelings about living here."

Pub Date: 1/07/99

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