An annex fit for Annapolis?

Senate addition: Some upset with project's scale, but changes took historic district into account.

August 09, 1999

THE STATE Senate deserves credit for listening to preservationists before moving ahead with plans to add an annex to the James Senate Office Building in Annapolis.

Unlike most property owners in the state capital's historic district, state government is not required to go through a preservation review process before building or renovating.

Sen. Robert R. Neall heads the Senate project. An Annapolis-area native and former Anne Arundel County executive, he is acutely aware of the importance of maintaining the look of Annapolis. He sought feedback for the plans from the private Historic Annapolis Foundation and the city's Historic Preservation Commission.

Planners adapted their suggestions and made some valuable changes: They replaced a glass walkway with a brick one to blend better with the facades; removed a 30-foot cupola that some believed was too large; and enlarged windows and an entrance to improve the look.

The revised sketch looks compatible with the city's architecture and the James building.

Annapolis Alderwoman Louise Hammond and some other residents remain dissatisfied. They are unhappy with the size of the addition -- almost twice as large as the James building itself. Residents are also mad that Mayor Dean L. Johnson didn't keep them abreast of plans. He should have.

But they're wrong to suggest that state politicians ran roughshod over aesthetics. Mr. Neall sought opinions from the preservation community and City Hall. As to the complaint about the annex's size, it would be pointless to build an inadequate addition that would be obsolete as soon as it opened.

Private citizens have been the driving force for architectural preservation in Annapolis, but the legislature has held up its end with its own buildings near State Circle. They form an attractive gateway to the historic district.

Pub Date: 8/09/99

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