The Maryland State House
The artwork and memorials of the Nation’s early history are writ large in the Chambers and on the grounds of Maryland’s State Capitol buildings. The Maryland State House is unique. It is the oldest one in the nation in continuous legislative use (the cornerstone for this third building was dedicated in 1772) and the only one to have served as the first peacetime Capital of the United States (1783-1784). In this building George Washington resigned his commission as General of the Continental Army on December 23, 1783 forever establishing the new nation’s Civil Government. The Old Senate Chamber where this occurred has been restored to its 1783 design. Here, too, the Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary war, was signed.
The Old House of Delegates Chamber
Across the Maryland marble central hall that divides the building, the Old House of Delegates Chamber has been restored to its 1876 design. In this Chamber, Maryland passed the 1864 Act that abolished slavery in the State. Nearby the current Delegates and Senators meet in legislative session from January to April each year. The Governor and Lt. Governor offices are on the Second floor. And above it all towers a mighty dome constructed without nails and with a lightening rod designed by Benjamin Franklin.
Maryland State House
Washington Resigning His Commission Painting by Edwin White, 1858
Washington Lafayette and Tilghman at Yorktown Painting by Charles Willson Peale, 1782
Old House of Delegates Chamber
Notable Paintings in the Maryland State House
The State House itself is an art gallery. Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) noted artist of the most popular portrait of President George Washington lived in Annapolis. He left his state house legacy in the portraits of Maryland Governors William Paca, William Smallwood, John Eager Howard and John Hoskins Stone and the 1784 painting of “Washington, Lafayette and Tilghman at Yorktown”. Paintings of “The Planting of the Colony” portraying the first colonists' arrival in 1634 and “The Burning of the Peggy Stewart” depicting the October 19, 1774 action forced upon Anthony Stewart when tea was discovered on his ship were produced by Frances Blackwell Mayer (1827-99) whose studio was in the current historic Shiplap House on Pinkney Street. Elsewhere is a painting by Edwin White (1817-77) commissioned by the Maryland legislature in 1857 of “Washington Resigning His Commission”. Works by Thomas Sully (1783-1872), John Beale Bordley (1800-82), John Hesselius (1728-1778) art instructor to Peale, are present throughout the State House.
The paintings join Tiffany Stained Glass, the Sterling Silver Service created for the second USS Maryland in 1906 by Baltimore Samuel Kirk and Sons, bronze sculptures and memorial plaques throughout the State House and its Grounds. The new office buildings for the Senate and the House of Delegates feature permanent and changing artwork exhibits. The artwork and memorials of Maryland’s State House can command one's attention for many hours. Here 300 years of the Nation’s history comes to life.