The History of the Annapolis Inn

We’re excited about starting this blog for The Annapolis Inn, and we hope you enjoy reading it.  So many of you, our guests and visitors, have asked us to share with them information about our home and Inn, our own backgrounds and histories, and this blog will give us the opportunity to provide you with exactly that type of information. You’ve been more than guests to us, you’ve been our extended family, and we know that your interest in everything about us is genuine and important to you, so let us know what you think of our blog.  Please feel free to make comments, ask questions or add and share your own insight, experience with us or any other information that you believe will elaborate or enrich a part of the story.

The history of our Inn, as a piece of colonial architecture, has been recorded by the Historic Maryland Trust, and we were provided with a copy which we will share with you. So, here we go: Once upon a time….

The core of these two residences started as a double-pile, center-passage dwelling erected in the 1780s.  With the growth of Annapolis in the late 19thcentury, a number of lots and dwellings in the older section of the city were subdivided to provide more housing and commercial stock.  Such was the case for this two-story brick dwelling in the mid-1880s as the owner added an entrance bay to the northeast and partitioned the old section of the house to create two side-passage residences.  The break in the brickwork caused by this radical reconfiguration of the house was masked on the exterior by stucco which obscured the header bond of the original section.

In the years immediately following the Revolution, Thomas Rutland constructed a 50 by 32 foot, five-bay, brick dwelling on the northeast side of Prince George Street.  The front elevation was laid in header bond while the rear and side walls were faced in English bond, a mid to late 18th-century decorative fashion characteristic of the region. The division between the first and second floors is demarcated by a four-course header bond belt course along the rear façade, a treatment that was almost certainly repeated originally on the front as well.  The two-story walls rise above an English bond foundation with a stepped water table.

The original plan consisted of a center stair passage with a pair of flanking rooms on each side. Unlike many Annapolis houses of this scale, the two principal entertaining rooms faced the street front while the two smaller rooms were located to the rear.  Internal chimneys located on the gable walls heated all four rooms.  Little is known of the original finish of these rooms as they were completely renovated by a subsequent owner in the second quarter of the 19th century.  The only surviving interior element from the first period of construction is an enriched plaster cornice in the stair passage similar in style to other late colonial examples in the city. The cymatium features an egg-and-dart band while the soffit of the corona consists of alternating modillions and pateras. The bed molding as a fret and rope motif along with a torus-shaped picture molding.

History of the Annapolis Inn Murray House
Rutland apparently faced financial reserves and was forced to sell the house to Dr. James Murray in 1785. The 1798 Federal Direct tax assessed Murray $1,200 for this lot which contained the dwelling, a one-story brick kitchen measuring 16 by 32 feet, a 16 foot square brick medical shop, and an 8 by 10 foot brick smokehouse.

Dr. James Murray House

James Iglehart, Jr. purchased the house in 1848 and by the late 1850s had made substantial changed to the exterior and interior.  The new owner added the two-story porch at the end of the house facing the harbor, lowered the window openings and inserted stone lintels, replaced the old windows with new 12-light sash, and installed a new front door surround.  The interior was nearly completely gutted and refurbished in the Greek Revival style.  Stone mantelpieces, symmetrical door and window architraves, and other woodwork conform to the new aesthetic.  Although the plaster cornice of the central passage was retained, Iglehart replaced the original stairway with a new one. Following the fashion of the period, he created double parlors between the front and rear rooms which opened into one another by a pair of large folding doors.

A generation later, Ann Waddell, Iglehart’s daughter, transformed the character of the house by subdividing the building into two separate domiciles.  She closed the doors on the left side of the old center passage and constructed a one-bay entrance and stair passage at the northeast end of the house.  Perhaps the most distinctive element in this addition was the polychrome flooring with its alternating pattern of dark walnut and light oak floorboards. Presumably it was Waddell who stuccoed the entire façade of the extended building to hide the distinct periods of brickwork.  She patterned the new front door surround after her father’s Greek Revival handiwork.  On the inside of the new tenement, doorways were cut through the old brickwork of the former gable-end wall to connect the new stair passage with the two ground-floor parlors and upper-floor bedchambers.  These new apertures were embellished with large Greek-inspired corner blocks and symmetrical moldings similar in scale and detail to the previous generation of trim.

Changes in the late 19th and 20th centuries to both sections of the Murray House have been mainly concentrated in the back with the addition and rebuilding of rear winds perpendicular to the main block.  However, little has been done to obscure the mid-19th century finishes in the older section, which provides one of the best opportunities to examine trim detail and finishes of the Greek Revival period in Annapolis.

19th Century Floor Plan Annapolis History

Until next time,
Joe Lespier
Innkeeper, Annapolis Inn

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