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State of Maryland Asking Public for Help in Effort to Restore the Old Senate Chamber in Maryland State House
Historic Preservation Blog from PreservationDirectory.com -
Contributed By: The Maryland State Archives and Maryland Historical Trust
Email The Author: Elaine.bachmann@maryland.gov
Website: http://www.statehouse.md.gov

Annapolis, June 11, 2012---The Old Senate Chamber in the Maryland State Houseone of the most historic rooms in Americais to be restored to its appearance during the late 18th century. The Maryland State House acquired national significance when it served as the capitol of the United States from November 1783 to August 1784. On December 23, 1783, in the Old Senate Chamber, George Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, thereby affirming the authority of the civilian government over the military. Two weeks later, in the same room, Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris, officially ending the Revolutionary War.    

The state of Maryland has undertaken an extensive architectural and historical investigation of the original appearance of the Old Senate Chamber and the many changes that have been made to the room over the centuries. A committee of prestigious architects and architectural historians, with extensive experience in 18th century buildings, was appointed to review the existing evidence and  advise on the current project. Much important information has been uncovered over the past few decades, but despite this, some questions are yet to be answered. 

The state is asking the public for assistance in completing this investigation. Any and all information pertinent to the construction, modification, or restoration of the Old Senate Chamber is welcome. In particular, assistance is needed in locating the following types of documentation:
  • Any 18th-century documents relating to the construction of the Maryland State House and, specifically, to the finish and appearance of the Old Senate Chamber and its furnishings;
  • 19th-century photographs and drawings of the State House, especially the Old Senate Chamber;
  • Any artifacts salvaged from the building, especially those removed from the Old Senate Chamber during the 1876 renovation;
  • Documents from the following people and companies who were prominent in projects in the State House in the 19th century:
    • George A. Frederick, architect of the 1876 renovation of the State House;
    • John Appleton Wilson, architect of the 1905 restoration of the Old Senate Chamber;
    • Annapolis artist Francis B. Frank Mayer who advised on the earliest restorations;
    • Baldwin & Pennington, architects of the 1905 Annex to the State House:
      • Bartlett-Hayward Company, gas-fitters, Baltimore; founded 1840 as Hayward and Friend, stove manufacturers.
The Maryland State Archives and Maryland Historical Trust, working with the state Department of General Services, are coordinating this effort.  The public is asked to call Elaine Rice Bachmann at 410.260.6445 or email her at Elaine.bachmann@maryland.gov with any relevant information on this important historical project. The Archives has also created a blog that will follow the progress on the current restoration effort which can be found at www.marylandstatehouse.blogspot.com.

More details about the history of the State House and the Old Senate Chamber can be found on the State House website at: www.statehouse.md.gov


Posted: June 28, 2012
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