Site 1: Church Circle and St. Anneís Church -- American Elm

American Elm -- Church Circle and St. Anneís Church

Church Circle

Exit the Visitorís Center onto West Street. To your left you will see the spire of St. Anneís Church; proceed down West Street to Church Circle. Church Circle is the heart of downtown Annapolis. Dating from 1694, when the Maryland General Assembly voted to move the capital of Maryland from St. Maryís City to what was then called Anne Arundel Towne, the city was renamed Annapolis the following year to honor Princess Anne, sister of Queen Mary. The original design called for the City to be laid out around two circles, one centering on a church and the other around a statehouse. The baroque plan of circles with radiating streets remains today. Take a careful look at the leaves of the American elm tree (pictured above) and identified in the Leaf Quest activity on the back cover.

St. Anneís Church

The present church, built in Romanesque revival style, is actually the third structure to occupy this site. The first St. Anneís, erected between 1696-1704, was torn down in 1775 to make room for a larger one. Unfortunately, the Revolutionary War intervened, and the second church was not completed until 1792. A fire on Valentineís Day in 1858 destroyed the church but rebuilding began immediately. Today, the congregation still uses the silver communion service given to the congregation in 1695 by King William III. Of special note, the third window on the right (south) side of the church, depicts St. Anne instructing her daughter, Mary. The Tiffany Studio created this window in 1893.

The grounds of St. Anneís contain a number of large, lovely old trees. The main entrance to the grounds (from West Street) is framed by two imposing American elms. Luckily, these trees have so far escaped damage by Dutch Elm disease, which has ravaged so many of our native elms. Proceeding around to the right, are several sycamores, easily recognized by their mottled bark of brown, green and grey shades. Completing the circuit, you will see a large willow oaks that provides beauty and shade. These oaks are so named because of their small, narrow leaves with smooth edges that somewhat resemble willows. The trees on Church Circle are typical of those found in abundance throughout Annapolis.

Government House

Directly across Church Circle from St. Anneís, between College Avenue and School Street, is Government House, residence of Marylandís Governor. Completed in 1870 in French Empire style, the mansion was remodeled in 1936 to reflect the Georgian style prevalent in much of the City. The interior and exterior were again remodeled in 1987-1990.

To the left of the entrance to School Street, is a recent addition to the grounds, the Victorian Garden. The fountain and surrounding rose garden were installed during the term of former Governor, William Donald Schaeffer and can be seen through the iron fence surrounding Government House. To the right of the garden, as you enter School Street, you will see an offspring of the Wye Oak. This is a white oak, Marylandís state tree. Continue around Government House and face the main entrance. You will see large southern magnolias, on either side of the entrance to the mansion. Just to your left is a handsome northern red oak, one of the most rapid-growing oaks. Continue around to the far right of Government House to view two tall Norway spruces with large showy cones, magnolias, American hollies and a littleleaf linden.

Next Cross State Circle across from the main entrance to Government House. The State House steps will be directly in front of you.


Last updated on November 20, 2001.

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