Discovering Annapolis

Yum! Cones from the Annapolis Ice Cream Company.

A couple of weekends ago, we found ourselves stopping in Annapolis, MD. We were on the hunt for ice cream after a day of birding. Now, you might think me a tad ignorant but I knew next to nothing about Annapolis. Like a good military wife, I realized it was the home of the US Naval Academy and that was about it.

If you want to do Annapolis the right way, you should probably plan for at least a day and read up on it in advance. But showing up without a plan worked for us. I’m sure we missed a lot but what I did see, I definitely remember. And if we didn’t find the best ice cream in town, it doesn’t matter because what we did find was excellent. So I can highly recommend the Annapolis Ice Cream Company at 196 Main Street.

One of the many boats moving in the harbor.

It shouldn’t surprise you that Annapolis is on the water. It has a proud Naval Tradition and you can read all about it at the small park near the harbor. It’s a great place to sit, eat your ice cream, and enjoy watching the boats come and go.
The placards around the park were full of all kinds of information. It was here that I learned Annapolis had served as a temporary capitol of the United States from November 26, 1783 to June 3, 1784. And George Washington resigned his commission here as well.

Mural at the US Naval Academy

The church on the Naval Academy grounds.

Those placards had us wondering more about the area and we decided that rather than head straight back up Main Street to our car, we would wander. We found the Naval Academy tucked back a couple of blocks. Really, the easiest way to find it is to follow the Naval Cadets in uniform. There were several! Though we didn’t walk the grounds, we admired the mural on the wall and the old buildings in the distance, especially the church with the tarnished copper dome and gold cap. On the back streets we also found old red brick homes, a marvelous old Fire House, and unique views of the State Capitol Building. In fact, the sun was low in the sky and appeared like a beacon light through the very top window in the dome; it looked more like a lighthouse than a building for governance.

The State Capitol is worth a visit all it’s own. I can only imagine what it looks like inside. The outside in springtime is glorious – it’s stately architecture enhanced by flowering fruit trees. It’s the oldest US State Capitol that has been in continuous use.

Fire House No 1, Waterwitch H&L

Maryland State Capitol looking more like a lighthouse.

Maryland State Capitol, April 2013

Statue of two young black students at the Thurgood Marshall Memorial, Annapolis MD

Just to the North of the building is a monument to Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court Justice. This monument honors his work as a lawyer, specifically two cases. The first case is memorialized by a statue to his right, a young black man named Donald Gaines Murray. Murray was only admitted to the University of Maryland Law School after Marshall won a case that said there were no equal choices of law schools in Maryland. The concept of “separate but equal” was built on a fallacy. This case became the basis for the more famous ruling we are all familiar with, Brown vs The Board of Education. This case is memorialized with a statue of two children to Marshall’s left. Both Murray and the young children are seated on stone benches and their are looking at Marshall. In keeping with the historic importance of his work, their faces are serious as if they are contemplating a great man. They are situated so that you can sit right next to them. In fact, if you have a good imagination, you might sit on one of these benches and imagine what life was like before “separate but equal” was eradicated as a concept of public education. You can gaze with them at this man that changed so much for so many. It’s a well designed monument because it doesn’t just offer a memory, it offers an opportunity live history, if only for a moment.

And this was our short trip to Annapolis – a surprise that I hope happens to us again. I love ‘discovering’ the unknown and in today’s world, where we can know a city before we ever arrive, it is sometimes fun to just show up and learn as you go.


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