a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Monday, July 12, 2010

A old door stands out in Annapolis

The front door to the Hammond-Harwood House is supposed to be the loveliest entryway in the United States, so they say.

By Scott Beveridge

ANNAPOLIS – It's possible the carved roses above the fan light were responsible the claim that an old Colonial entryway was the most-beautiful door in America, an honor that stuck to a house as tightly as its mortar.

Or, maybe the perfect symmetry of the double doors flanked by stately columns were the reasons behind the title applied to the entrance to Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis, Md.

No one has ever known exactly where the story originated, according to The Capital newspaper in that Atlantic Coast city, where the wealthy 25-year-old tobacco planter, Mathias Hammond, built the fine Georgian mansion in 1774.  It's also doubtful he ever lived there, the newspaper reported.

We breezed past the place last Sunday, when the house museum was closed. But, it's other claim to fame arrived in 1940 when the Hammond-Harwood House Association set out to convert the house into a "premier museum of decorative arts and paintings," the newspaper further reported in 2006.

Without a doubt, though, this old house was planted in what would become one of the best-preserved historic districts in the United States. That was my call after that too-brief visit there.

The downtown and waterfront areas have been converted into a sprawling tourist area lined with interesting shops, pubs and restaurants. The summer traffic, though, was too congested on streets built for horses and buggies.

My only other criticisms involved a streetscape with too many overhead wires atop utility poles also topped with lights dating to the 1960s. It would be much prettier there if city officials had spent the money to bury the utilities and improve public transportation to the tourist areas.

The two photos, below, are scenes from the downtown waterfront area:

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