Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Our Annapolis Building

Although MedChi has had a presence in our state capital, Annapolis, since our very first days, we have not always had a permanent space there. In 1989, we acquired a building on Main Street which has a history almost as long as ours. 
The State of Maryland has a truly amazing resource called "Medusa," which is the Maryland Historical Trust's online database of architectural and archaeological sites and standing structures. I used it on the blog here and here with a detailed explanation of our two main buildings. 

So, when someone recently asked me for information about our building in Annapolis, the first place I headed was Medusa. The building, which was known as the Ann Claude Building, was built between 1858 and 1871 at what is now 224 Main Street in downtown Annapolis, just a block or so from the Maryland State House. 

The house does not appear on the 1858 Sachse map of Annapolis, so it can be dated from sometime after that. The Sachse maps were illustrated from a bird's eye view, with every building in a locale. They are invaluable to historians.

The Claude family owned property at the Main Street address from the 1830's, although they in Annapolis many decades before that. 

In 1855, Ann Claude (not sure how she's related) obtained the site, but the building was not yet built. When she died in 1871, the site were deeded to her son, Abraham (sometimes spelled Abram) Claude. He was a physician by profession, and served as Mayor of Annapolis on and off from 1847 to 1889. During the years 1871 and 1883, he was a professor of natural sciences at St. John's College. Between 1895 and 1899, he was postmaster.

By 1877, there is a building at 224 Main, which appears on Gray's Map of Annapolis. Over the next century, the building variously housed a confectionery, tailor shop, restaurant and other offices and commercial enterprises, including a savings and loan association. Deep boxed cornice and flat window trim at the second floor two-over-two windows are all that remain from earlier facade treatment.
In 1989, MedChi acquired the building and leased it to, among others, the Maryland Democratic Party. Its central location, close to the State House, makes it ideal during the three-month long General Assembly session from January to April.
The building was added to the Historic American Buildings Survey in 1967 because of its importance to the vernacular streetscape of the city. For the full history and survey of the building, please click here.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Tie One On

One of our recent posts for "Throw-Back Thursday" was a guide to ties and cravats, many of which we've seen on our portraits. 

We can make a timeline of our portraits by using the various styles of neck-wear through the ages. The older portraits have much more elaborate cravats than do the more contemporary portraits. 

Here are some of the more flamboyant gentlemen in our collection. Please click the link to find our more about the portrait.

Rembrandt Peale, an early Baltimore painter, who did the portraits of Harris and Hayden, was a master at painting these cravats. You can see the sheerness of the cloth, as well as every crimp and fold. 

To read a piece I wrote about the various styles of facial hair on our portraits, please click here

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Happy 220th Birthday to MedChi!

On January 20 of 1799, just as the Maryland State Legislature was beginning its annual assembly, the Medical & Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland was legislated into existence. From across the state, 101 medical men convened to establish an organization to “prevent quackery and pretenders to the healing arts.” 
Please join us in celebrating 220 years of working for and with the physicians of Maryland. 


Friday, January 4, 2019

Lost Baltimore: McNamara's Saloon

 Over the long holiday weekend, I was sorting through some boxes of books with a friend, when I came across a book called "Lost Baltimore Landmarks: A Portfolio of Vanished Buildings" by Carlton Jones (1982)
As I leafed through it, my heart just broke to see all of the amazing buildings that used to populate Baltimore. Of course, a great number of them were lost to the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904. A number of them also fell to time, and sadly, to the wrecker's ball. 

Nearly buried in the book was a photograph of McNamara's Tavern, otherwise known as the Emerald Hotel.
It stood at 227 North Calvert Street and was built in the early part of the 1800's. The book describes it thusly: 
This engaging little flophouse can serve as a stand-in for the many hundreds of vernacular saloons and corner spas that have disappeared from the central Baltimore scene on the past two generations, to be replaced by expensively trendy replicas of the "Gay Nineties." It is notable for three reasons. It combines within itself three major architectural phases: 18th century dormer, early Federal facade lines and spiky Victorian gimcrackery at the street level. It also fuses the name of Baltimore's most famous defunct brand of beer, Gunther, with the real prototype, a genuine Irish pub. Its third, more serious claim, is the fact that it was the first permanent home, briefly in 1858, of the ancient Medical & Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, the all-powerful state medical society.
It's not particularly flattering to realize that our first permanent home was in a flophouse!

A while ago, when I was learning how to colorize images from our collections, one of the first I did was the Emerald Hotel.
It is really quite amazing how the colors bring the image to life and make it easy to imagine how it once looked.