Annapolis Charter 300 1708-2008
—Commemorating the 1708 Royal Charter under Queen Anne to the City of Annapolis —
"St. Clair Wright said many times that Historic Annapolis accomplished more in the eight years I was mayor than in any other period. That makes me feel awfully good."
Roger "Pip" Moyer, 2002.
Historic preservation in Annapolis entailed a dramatic engagement with place and the history of place. Annapolis had to make critical decisions in the post-war years to maintain its livability and economic vitality, especially during the 1960s when so many American cities faced decline. Preservation presented the city with a reasonable alternative to urban renewal, and the same people were backing both efforts that would:
· Create a future plan for the city, and create offices in city government that would usher in real changes in the way the city was run.
· Invent the tools to ensure that future development in the "old town" was appropriate and retained the historical values that would make it a viable place for living and doing business.
Historic preservation was an alternative to redevelopment that could also arrest decline. Preservation advocates attained a great deal of influence in city hall as this movement was embraced as a means to revitalize the town's economy at its center. This was particularly so starting with Roger Moyer's administration from 1965-1973. Important changes
in the way the Annapolis city government operated — from a traditional system rooted in machine politics and patronage to an increasingly transparent, progressive government — are the context in which preservation was established in Annapolis. Preservation was a fight, but it was one among many fights going on in the city during this period.
Matthew Palus, University of Maryland
Interview with Roger Moyer, October 11, 2002, Matthew Palus, interviewer. On file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, 196 Prince George Street, Annapolis, Maryland.
St. Clair Wright, Mayor "Pip" Moyer and Maryland Inn owner Paul Pearson in the basement that would be restored as the King of France Tavern, a popular jazz spot for decades in the late 20th C.
Politics, Poker and Preservation
In a kind of second suffrage, women were getting involved in high-stakes local politics, a domain that had been exclusively masculine. This provoked hostility from the city's established politicians and sometimes reprisals. To an extent Annapolis politics was like a poker game, a masculine sphere, where wives and families were excluded. In the 1960s women stopped letting men do the talking and demanded access to what had been a scene of male dominance. St. Clair Wright and Pringle Symonds attended city council meetings and spoke on their own behalf, rather than putting up someone who could speak as their proxy. Ellen Moyer was a part of this change as well, and so was Peg Wallace. Wright lead the fight for the public referendum that created the historic district in 1969. Pringle Symonds, known as Mrs. Wright's lieutenant-though this doesn't really do her justice—was appointed to be the chair of the Historic District Commission when it was formed in 1969. She was the only woman on the 5-member commission, which also included city council member Arthur Ellington. Symonds said that she was probably put there because she would be nice and do what she was told. She was not nice.
Historic Annapolis Foundation is one of several civic organizations which appeared during the 1950s and 1960s, all of which were promoting this kind of smart development, and progressive reform in government. In a sense, that is what historic preservation is:
smart development, but the move towards planning the future of the city was only partly a matter of preservation.
Marion E. Warren, Photographer.
Courtesy of Historic Annapolis Foundation
"Unlike most people in historic preservation, St. Clair Wright early on saw the necessity of involving government officials in the process both for historic district legislative protection and height and bulk restrictions and of government's power to assist. Officials had to be convinced they wanted to be part of rediscovering the beauty of their capital city. By the 1950s it had been made shabby by aluminum storefronts, neon signs, dislodged tricks and decades of lax maintenance. Damaging out of scale uses such as car dealerships and bargain stores disfigured 18th century taverns and what had been the fine urban vistas. In St. Clair Wright they met the visionary with practical, incremental plans that they could understand and support." Pringle Hart Symonds, 2008. Photo Courtesy of Historic Annapolis Foundation.
Roger Moyer brought expertise into the areas of city government that were the most hostile towards expertise and change. During his tenure, Annapolis passed a comprehensive zoning code, implemented its first master plan, hired a city planner, and established an Urban Renewal Authority. During this same period, the historic preservation movement attracted a base of activists and civic leaders, but also among the residents of the city.
Matthew Palus, 2002.
Collection of Maryland State Archives.
MSA SC 1907-B3-G-34.
With appreciation for their assistance: Matthew Palus, Historic Annapolis Foundation, the Maryland State Archives, and Office of the Mayor.
This Annapolis Charter 300 project is being supported in part by a Preserve America Grant administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior. This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinion, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of their author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.