Site 8: Franklin Street and Acton Place - Southern Red Oak

Southern Red Oak -- Franklin Street and Acton Place Franklin Street

Proceed down Franklin Street for a few blocks. A large ginkgo can be seen in the back yard of #40 Franklin. This ginkgo was the Maryland champion in 1990, with a height of 92’ and circumference of 17’9”. The best view is from Shaw Street or from about half way down North Acton Place. This tree is spectacular in the fall when the leaves turn golden yellow. Southern magnolias can be seen in front of #38 and #43 Franklin Street and crape myrtles form a lovely, late-July to early-August touch of cool shade in the row in front of #43 Franklin Street. Acton Hall is located further down Franklin Street on the left.

Acton Hall

The original land grant for this estate was made to Richard Acton by Cecil Calvert in 1651. The Georgian manor house was begun by Phillip Hammond in 1745; but extensive renovations both inside and outside the house have refurbished the house and grounds to their original splendor. This is a private residence and not open to the public but many of the gracious trees can be seen from the streets surrounding the estate.

One of the best views of the property is from Franklin Street at the head of Acton Place. This site used to be occupied by huge English boxwoods, but these were removed and transplanted next to the residence about 20 years ago. The two large trees planted in replacement, under which you are standing, are northern red oaks. To distinguish between this and another varieties of oak, notice the large tree to your left, about 1/3 of the way down North Acton Place. This is a southern red oak, distinguished by the bell-shaped leaf base, scythe-shaped lobes, and long narrow tip. To your far right, at the corner of Franklin and South Acton Place is an elm that is undoubtably one of the largest trees in Annapolis. In the yard on the corner of North Acton Place and Franklin (to your immediate left) is a large, old English walnut, that suffered nearly terminal damage when a car hit it a few years ago.

As you view the main façade of Acton Hall, the attractive tree to the left of the entrance is a yellowwood tree. The tree on the right is a Japanese pagoda tree, so named because it is frequently found planted near temples in the Orient. If you walk along South Acton Place to the cul-de-sac, you can peek over the fence into the rear gardens that extend down to the waters of Spa Creek. One unusual tree at the end of the cul-de-sac, just on the boundary with Acton Hall is a very large flowering ash, a native to Europe and Asia. Most ash species have inconspicuous flowers; the showy clusters of this species give the tree its name.

Just next to the rear left corner of the house is a false cypress and across North Acton Street an interesting contrast; a hawthorn in the yard of #4 N. Acton with its long pointed spikes and shiny, dark green leaves. This neighborhood is a wonderful location for the tree enthusiast; you will see many species in addition to those mentioned here.

Next For the final two sites on the tour, return to the Visitor’s Center (take Franklin to Church Circle, turn left on West Street. The center is on the right. The shuttle will return you to the parking lot near the USNA stadium. Site # 9 is just across Taylor Avenue.

Last updated on November 20, 2001.

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