Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Charles Carroll House, Annapolis

The Charles Carroll House in Annapolis is the birthplace of the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll. He was born on September 19, 1737. His father (also Charles Carroll) built the home in the 1720s. The younger Charles left in 1748 to study abroad. He came back in 1765 and married Mary Darnall in 1768. The couple used the home as their "city residence." Many of their seven children were born (and died) at the house. He enlarged the house and improved the gardens in the early 1770s. In April 1783 they held a large, outdoor celebration of the end of the American War for Independence. Carroll lived here while he served in the Maryland Senate (1777-1800) and in the U. S. Senate (1789-1792). He rented the property in the 1820s, staying either with his daughter in Baltimore or at the family plantation, Doughoregan Manor, in current day Howard County. He died in 1832, last of the signers of the Declaration to pass away.

Charles Carroll House, Annapolis

Local seal of historic approval

In 1852, his granddaughters gave the house and grounds to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists). They added a west wing to the house, as well as building St. Mary's church and a school. The property is still owned by the Redemptorists and is available for touring on weekends.

We visited on the Fourth of July weekend, figuring it was an appropriately patriotic time to visit. We entered the side of the house where the volunteers gave us a brief overview of the property. The first room is the kitchen area with the usual grand fireplace for cooking all sorts of goodies.

My daughter ready to cook

Nearby was a storage room or wine cellar with only one lonely table inside.

Cold storage/wine cellar

Nearby was a window into another basement room that was locked. Peeking in by holding my camera up to the window, I found it was also a storage room.

The storage room that's still a storage room

A windy staircase brought us to the front room with a small fireplace and a bricked up doorway. Originally, the door led out of the house to the east yard but in the 1790s younger Charles expanded the house and made the library larger (we approved).

Current decor of the entrance

Just beyond the entrance hall is a large room where they did their entertaining (George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette visited on separate occasions).

The great hall

Not sure what this is in the fireplace

View of the other end of the great hall

View from the great hall windows

Just behind one end of the great hall is a passageway that led to another house. According to the sign, the hole in the wall was for a chair rail in the room!

Chair rail mounting

The room includes an antique chair on loan from the Sisters of Mercy in Baltimore.

Loaner chair

Hallway fireplace, not as interesting as...

...a writing table! If only I could write.

The hall also has a replica of a famous painting of the Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull and a photo of the estate from the early Redemptorist days.

Presentation of the Declaration (not the actual signing!)

Students rowing circa 1864

My children discovered a secret door between the hallway and the great room!

A secret door!

Looking from the great room into the hallway

The door hidden in an alcove!

The house has hardly any furnishings and the upstairs was off-limits for us, so we went outside to enjoy the gardens.

House seen from the back lawn

Back lawn seen from the house

Part of the gardens had a theatrical troupe who were preparing for a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream later in the week. Entertaining still happens at the house!

Lawn with actors on it

After the house was given to the Redemptorists, they used part of the garden as a cemetery.

Cemetery with view of the water

More of the cemetery

In the back of the cemetery is a pieta that has been a bit overgrown. Just below the pieta are relics of Saint Justin, a martyr who died during Maximinus's persecutions in the early 300s. Some of the remains were transferred to Annapolis in 1873 from an abbey in Subiaco. The remains were buried here in 1989.

Pieta almost inaccessible

The pieta

Marker for the relics

View from the pieta

Further down in the garden is the final resting place of Charles Carroll of Homewood, son of the man who signed the Declaration.

Charles Carroll of Homewood, one of the many Charleses

We tried to visit the church but a wedding was going on, so we'll have to come back another day!

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