Wednesday, July 15, 2015

William Paca House and Garden, Annapolis

The highlight of our visit to Annapolis on the Fourth of July 2015 was the William Paca House and Garden. William Paca was a lawyer in the 1700s who represented the colony of Maryland at the Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence. Later, he was the governor of Maryland and a federal judge.

His home in Annapolis is in the downtown area very close to the Naval Academy. The house has been preserved by Historic Annapolis which also maintains the gardens. Tours of the house are available and the gardens are free to roam around when the house is open. Photography is not allowed inside the house (just a warning when we get to that bit).

Paca House

Paca Gardens

More of the gardens

Even more of the gardens

Since we were there on the Fourth, they had lots of activities with patriotic or colonial themes. The children tried their hands at writing with ink and quills, which was more challenging than you might imagine.

Quill writing 101

After some practice, they signed the Declaration of Independence too!

L gives her John Hancock

J worried about committing treason!

We had a tour of the house. A docent volunteered to get us through more quickly since we had a seven and a six year-old with us. J and L enjoy historic house tours but are more happy with faster moving tours. The house had several groups in it, so we moved from room to room in a haphazard fashion. We were happy with it. The most interesting room was the kitchen, where they displayed various items. One mechanism on the fireplace rotated meats on a spit so no servant had to stay there for hours to rotate the meat. On the table was a fake cow's head and the kitchen docent told us that the colonials would eat every last bit of an animal, including face meat. Eyeballs were considered a delicacy! We also learned about what spices were available and how important presentation was for upper-class dining in colonial times. Often, bird meat was cooked and then stuffed back in the skins of the bird to make a pretty dish. Sadly (or luckily, in the case of the cow's head) we were not allowed to take pictures inside, so readers will just have to imagine these delicacies.

The gardens were free for touring and picture taking. Another activity was a fill-in-the-blank sheet. Each blank had a number. Little American flags were posted throughout the gardens with the numbers and associated letters. Once solved, the children would get a prize. The activity let us parents stroll leisurely through the garden while the kids filled out their sheets.

Entering the gardens from the house

A massive flower

Bees were buzzing all over this spot

Well-tended flower beds

The practical garden (with herbs and veg)

At the back of the garden is a gazebo where the Pacas could entertain if they wished. The garden path leads across a small bridge over a little pond, quite charming and sophisticated.

Half-way to the gazebo looking back at the house


An overgrown pond

House view from the gazebo

The guy on top of the gazebo

J finishing his fill-in-the-blank

After visiting the garden, naturally we had to use the toilet (because that's what children do). While there, we took some fun pictures with the hats we were given.

N tried it on

L and J

We went back to the entrance, where J and L turned in their sheets (the fill-in was "Stars and Stripes Forever!") and received copies of the Declaration of Independence. We had a great time and highly recommend visiting the house for a taste of the upper-class colonial life.

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