This Month In County History

1699: Lightning hits State House

July 15, 2005

It was late in the afternoon on July 13, 1699, when the doors and windows of the first State House in Annapolis were suddenly shattered by a massive, violent bolt of lightning.

James Crawford, a Calvert County member of the House of Delegates, was killed instantly, and several of his colleagues were injured. The lightning also sparked a fire in one of the upper chambers of the building. The royal governor of Maryland, Nathaniel Blackstone, assisted in putting out the fire before further damage could be done.

Unfortunately, the building would burn down in 1704. A second State House was built in 1707 and served as the meeting place for the General Assembly until 1779. That year, today's State House opened. The building included a 28-foot-long lightning rod designed by Benjamin Franklin that has protected it from lightning strikes to this day.

Sources: A History of Anne Arundel County in Maryland, 1905 and Sasha Lourie, assistant curator, Maryland Commission on Artistic Property

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