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St. Anne's Churches

St. Anne's Churches

The First St. Anne's Church

1704-1775


The first St. Anne's Church was built between 1696 and 1704, the delay having been caused by the Anglo-French wars and a shortage of materials and competent bricklayers. When completed, it served as the Chapel Royal for Maryland until 1715, when the province was returned to Lord Baltimore. Thereafter until the Revolution, it was the Proprietary Chapel of Maryland as well as the Church of Middle Neck Parish.

Annapolitians from all walks of life regularly resorted to it for the Sacraments of Font and Altar, to worship in the great spiritual tradition of the Book of Common Prayer, and to receive instruction in Christian doctrine and morals from priests who had been ordained by bishops of the Church of England, licensed by the Bishop of London, and instituted into the parish by the Lord of Proprietor or his representative, the Governor of Maryland. Except for the private chapel in the home of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, where the Roman Catholics worshipped, St. Anne's was the only church in colonial Annapolis.

The Maryland General Assembly contributed to the cost of building the first St. Anne's Church in return for official pews being set aside for use of the Governor and legislators. King William III (1689-1701) sent over a handsome set of Communion Silver made in 1696 and engraved with his royal arms for use in his Chapel Royal in Annapolis, and it is still in use every Sunday. Later, Queen Anne (1701-1714) gave a bell which called parishioners to worship until it was destroyed in the fire of 1858.

In addition to the King William silver, St. Anne's is fortunate enough to have parish records dating from 1705 from Major General Hammond, whose tombstone is still in the churchyard, and a large Prayer Book purchased in 1764 and used until about 1805, with a prayer for the President of the United States written in ink to replace the printed one for King George III.

The Second St. Anne's Church

1792-1858


Being the only church in Annapolis before the Revolution, St. Anne's was so well attended that additional galleries were added from time to time. Even so, the town grew faster than these makeshift attempts to increase the seating capacity, and in 1775 the first St. Anne's Church was pulled down to make room for a new larger one designed by Joseph Horatio Anderson, who was the architect of the present State House, which was begun in 1772. The timing proved to be unfortunate, as the Revolution broke out that year and the bricks and timber that had been stockpiled for the new church were commandeered by the Committee of Safety of the provisional government and used to build forts at the mouth of the Severn River to defend the city against attacks by the enemy. During the war years, the parishioners of St. Anne's worshipped in King William's School on State Circle and, when that proved inadequate, in the new theater that had been built on West Street just before the war.

After the ratification of the Treaty of Paris by the Continental Congress meeting in State House in Annapolis in 1784, by which time American independence was acknowledged by Great Britain, the thirteen states were plunged into severe economic depression caused by the burden of heavy war debts and the dislocation of accustomed trading patterns. Hence, the building of the new church was further delayed. In due course, however, the new church arose and was consecrated in 1792 by the first Bishop of Maryland, Thomas John Claggett, who had been a curate in the old church. The second St. Anne's Church was larger and architecturally more sophisticated than its rather plain predecessor.

On St. Valentine's Day in 1858, a fire gutted the interior of the church and Queen Anne's bell perished in the conflagration. Fortunately, the old Communion silver, Bible and Prayer Book were rescued from the flames.

Church records before 1704 were burned in a fire at the State House, so the precise date of the completion of the first church is unknown. It was built, however, at the same time as the State House and King William's School (now St. John's College).

By the 1770's the building was showing its age. The vestry appealed to the General Assembly for aid and received funds for a new church. Shortly after, the building was demolished. The Revolutionary War intervened and delayed construction for more than 15 years. During the interim, the parishioners worshipped at a brick theatre on West Street. Vestry members of the period included Samuel Chase and William Paca, both signers of the Declaration of Independence. Another notable worshipper at St. Anne's was Francis Scott Key, who attended while a student at St. John's College. The second St. Anne's, completed in 1792, served the parish until a furnace fire gutted the interior on Valentine's Day, 1858.

The Third and Present St. Anne's

Built 1858-1859


The present church, which rose like a phoenix from the ashes of the second St. Anne's Church, was built immediately after the fire of 1858 in the Romanesque Revival style and incorporated a portion of the old tower. The church was completed in 1859, except for the present steeple which was delayed by the Civil War and not completed until 1866. At the request of the City of Annapolis, the Town Clock has been housed in the tower since that time.

The stone Altar and Font were carved by the Maryland sculptor, William Henry Rinehart (1825-1874). The walnut pulpit, pews, and bishop's chair were made for the new church in 1859. The brass eagle lectern is in memory of Captain James Wadell (1824-1886), who as commander of the Confederate Raider "Shenandoah", is said to have sunk or captured more American ships than anyone else in history. The walnut reredos depicting the Risen Christ offering the Book of Life to humankind was made in 1920 by the Oberammergau woodcarver, William Kirchmayer. Some of the stained glass windows are notable as well. The third one on the south side, depicting St. Anne instructing her young daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, was made by the Tiffany Studios and exhibited at the Colombian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 before being put in the church. The new organ in the rear gallery was built by the Freiburger Orgelbau and installed in 1975.

Compass Rose


The St. Anne's Compass Rose adorns the top of the church steeple and signifies the universal call of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the mission of St. Anne's Parish to our entire city and county.

All Material © 2014 St. Anne's Church, Annapolis, MD 21401-2520

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