Historic Annapolis by Candlelight

Have you ever wondered what those historic homes look like inside? I do! Thus, when I hear of a tour of private residences in a historic city, I leap at the chance to tour them!

A home on a previous year’s tour. Photo courtesy VisitAnnapolis.org.
Once a year, you get to find out how a selection of historic homes in historic Annapolis have decorated the historic interiors. Please note, other cities, including Frederick, also offer similar tours, when homeowners graciously open up their historic homes to the general public.
A home on a previous year’s tour; photo courtesy VisitAnnapolis.org.

The Sign of the Hogshead is now a museum in historic Annapolis; its wood-frame
structure poses an architectural mystery, as the property shows up in records, but
with a different structure identified. It is suspected that the structure, which dates
to the 1700s, was moved to the location and placed atop a foundation
that dates to the early 1800s at some point.

What’s really fun is seeing how the homeowners have created comfortable, functional and in some cases, very contemporary and modern spaces in homes dating back two hundred or more years. You get to see where walls were, see where doors used to be, enjoy seeing some gorgeous antiques as well as very contemporary touches, and in touring, you get a glimpse of how families have lived in the homes and adapted them (and to them) over the many decades. In some cases, the old is preserved right along with the new marble counters and original floors (you hear a lot about the original floors).

A home on a previous year’s tour; photo courtesy VisitAnnapolis.org.

Annapolis by Candlelight, marking its 27th year, takes place the first full weekend in November (the first weekend that contains both a Friday and a Saturday). Historic Annapolis, Inc., which organizes the annual event, also puts on a number of other events each year, but Annapolis by Candlelight is a one of a kind.

The houses on the tour, such as the circa 1903 residence a few doors down from the
Paca Mansion, are easily identified by the luminaries in front and leading up to the entrance.

There are also holiday candle light tours, offered by the Watermark tour company, that also bring you through the historic district. It’s also worth noting that the Hammond-Harwood House offers a Secret Garden Tour each year. If you’re a fan of the area, then also look for Eastport’s home and garden tour, offered annually at a different time of year.

The Cassaway-Feldmeyer House. With its 3-story pressed brick facade with
narrow mortar joints, wide eaves an elaborate cornices, the Cassaway-
Feldmeyer house is an outstanding example of the Italianate style. Now a
private residence, it used to be the headquarters of Historic Annapolis.

The wreath on one of the front doors of a house on the Annapolis by Candlelight Tour.

Historic Annapolis began its Historic Marker program in the late 1960s to encourage preservation efforts and to educate residents and visitors alike about the city’s rich architectural heritage. Eleven of the buildings on this year’s Annapolis by Candlelight tour display the octagonal markers, which are color-coded according to different eras and styles.

The Waterwitch Hook & Ladder Fire Station #1 is now a private residence. After
the fire company vacated the building in 1987, it was purchased for use as office by the
Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Later, the property was converted into two separate residences,
an excellent example of “adaptive resuse.” The current owners purchased the property about a
year ago, renovating the interior extensively before moving in. Photo courtesy VisitAnnapolis.org.

Know before you go #1: Wear flat-soled walking shoes. You’re walking up and down (often steep and narrow) stairways and over cobble-stoned and brick sidewalks.

Inside detail of the Sign of the Hogshead, which is run as a house museum.

Know before you go #2: The homes on the tour are NOT wheel-chair accessible, as these are private homes. Photography inside the homes is not permitted. Bathrooms are not for public use.

I really enjoyed getting to experience Annapolis in a completely
different way than I normally would while exploring by daylight!

Know before you go #3: Be ready to walk. We climbed a total of 16 flights (according to my Fitbit) and walked almost 3 miles. This varies from year to year, depending on the homes included on the tour and their locations. Parking is street parking only.

This house wasn’t on the tour, but it was adjacent to
one that was, and took a pretty photo, so…

Interestingly (and sadly), one of the homes has three gravestones (not sure
whether these are actual grave sites or if it truly was just the stones) in the patio.

Where: Varies each year. Tickets available online and for pickup at the Paca House.

Hours: 5 – 9 p.m. first weekend (Friday, Saturday) in November.

Website: Annapolis.org

The McCusker House, named for a family who
owned it for more than 100 years, was once a tavern.
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Two of these four townhomes were on the tour this year.
Built by Jeremiah Hughes in 1821, these four
townhomes largely retain their original features.

One Reply to “Historic Annapolis by Candlelight”

  1. Great article. My home was on the tour a couple of years ago and it was so much fun to show people my ancestral home. All the men in my family added something during there life time including secret doors that I found when I gave it a much needed face lift

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