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William Paca House and Garden

William Paca House and Garden

Located in the heart of downtown Annapolis, Maryland, the William Paca House and Garden is a renovated 18th-century Georgian mansion which overlooks a two-acre pleasure garden. This National Historic Landmark, restored by the Historic Annapolis Foundation, iss accredited by the American Association of Museums.Built by Paca in 1763–65, the architecture of the house resembles the English country villas of the time. It contains museum-quality period furnishings including Paca family silver and ceramics.The multi-tier garden has a beautiful outdoor space suitable for weddings and other special occasions. Indoor meeting facilities are also available.The garden is filled with plants of the 18th century. It features walking paths, a wilderness garden, a caterer's kitchen, and the dome of the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel. There is a Chinese Chippendale-style bridge across the goldfish-shaped pond, which leads to a two-story summer house.

William Paca House and Garden - History

Anne Arundel County the area bounded by Spa Creek, Duke of Gloucester Street, Church Circle, College Avenue, and King George, Hanover, Randall, and Prince George Streets Annapolis.

Ownership and Administration. Various.

Significance. Although visited by Capt. John Smith in 1608, the Annapolis area was not settled for a few decades. In 1649, the same year that Lord Baltimore's Religious Toleration Act made Maryland a haven for nonconformists, about 300 dissatisfied Puritans emigrated from Virginia to the mouth of the Severn River, near the site of Annapolis. Soon afterward some of them settled at the site—which until 1695 they gave various names, including Proctor's Landing, Arundelton, Severn, and Anne Arundel Town. In that year they renamed it Annapolis in honor of Princess Anne, Protestant daughter of James II.

The year before, the town had been designated the capital of Maryland in place of St. Marys City. A political and mercantile center, the town also had an active social and cultural life. Merchants and planters built elegant homes and entertained legislators. Theaters, horseraces, and taverns provided entertainment. After the turn of the 18th century the affluence of Annapolis increased and during the War for Independence reached its pinnacle. Near the end of the war the Continental Congress met in the Maryland State House, where in 1783 George Washington resigned his commission. Soon after that period, Baltimore began to gain the ascendency as the commercial center of Maryland.

Colonial Annapolis Historic District is a Registered National Historic Landmark relating primarily to architecture and to the development of commerce and industry.

William Paca House & Garden. Courtesy, Historic Annapolis Foundation.

William Paca House & Garden
Hammond-Harwood House

Present Appearance. More brick buildings predating the War for In dependence are preserved in Annapolis than in any other U.S. city, thanks in part to the efforts of Historic Annapolis, Inc., which has long been active in protecting the historic residential and harbor areas. The Historic District incorporates much of the original town, one of the first planned cities in the United States. The dominant State Circle and ancillary circle on the west, Church Circle, lie at the heart of the modified radial plan. The streets radiate roughly north and east from the two circles.

Most of the historic buildings date from the 18th century. Some of the more important are as follows: Maryland State House (in its own right a Registered National Historic Landmark and described separately elsewhere in this volume) Hammond-Harwood House (eligible for the Registry of National Historic Landmarks relating primarily to the development of the English colonies) Chase-Lloyd House Old Treasury Building William Reynolds Tavern William Paca House Peggy Stewart House Christopher Hohne-Holland House and the Brice House. Several buildings, including the Werntz House and the Maryland Inn, are associated from an architectural standpoint with the period of history treated in this volume.

William Paca House and Garden - History

Appreciating Colonial History at the William Paca House in Annapolis

Strolling through Annapolis, one quickly notices threads of colonial history throughout. During our trips to Annapolis, we have enjoyed learning a little more about colonial history each time. On our recent trip, we treated ourselves to a tour of the grand William Paca House and Garden.

William Paca was quite the distinguished resident of Annapolis. He was a lawyer, signatory of the Declaration of Independence, member of the Maryland legislature and governor of Maryland. Wow! I am sure there is more, but that is why you, too, will need to tour the house! Before going on the tour, we viewed a small section with information about William Paca and the home. There also was a video. A great foundation for the tour!

William Paca's Georgian mansion was constructed in the 1760's.
As you can imagine, a man of Paca's stature would want to impress with his house. William Paca's Georgian mansion was built in the 1760's. Outside, we learned about the construction of the home including the fact that Paca had the bricks laid in a way so that he would have to use more thus displaying his wealth. An interesting fact -- Paca's great-grandfather was actually an indentured servant who ended up marrying a more wealthy woman. Thus, the Pacas started moving up in status.

Inside, we learned more about how Paca displayed his wealth not only in construction and design but also while entertaining. In the first room, we learned about a special scope used for images as well as other art and decor elements illustrating Paca's wealth.

Taking a peek inside the kitchen at the William Paca House.
Next, we toured the kitchen where we learned about how the family was fed. We also learned about the hierarchy of the slaves in terms of what each was fed. If you look closely in the photo, you will notice chains attached to a bag. This is a colonial spit called a spit jack to turn it! I thought that was pretty intriguing!

Dinner at the Paca House.
We could not help but be impressed by the dining room. Stunning! Here I was surprised to learn that the green on the walls actually consists of wallpaper that was painted green. While artifacts in the home are from the period, few belonged to the Pacas. The gravy boat here belonged to the Pacas. Another interesting tidbit -- dinners lasted 3 hours. Incredible!

Also in the room is an exquisite grandfather clock constructed in Annapolis by gifted artisans.

We also learned about how women dressed in the 1700's. I thought that it is pretty cool that pockets were sewn into the dress.

One of the other items in the home that belonged to Paca is this bed frame. I am surprised that they were able to obtain it relatively intact!

We ended our tour in the elegant parlor. Here you will notice the intricate dental molding indicating wealth once again. The setting, furniture, decor and everything in the parlor is breathtaking!

After the tour, we sauntered through the colonial garden. Not too much was in bloom during our visit but the garden was still beautiful and peaceful to walk through. We reflected a bit on what we learned during our tour and appreciated the new knowledge we gained about Maryland and colonial history. The tour was fabulous and an excellent choice for any Annapolis itinerary.

William Paca House & Garden

The Historic Annapolis Facebook page shares curators secrets with #CuratorsCorner, tours of their gardens with #TodayInTheGarden, and updates from their expert staff with #WorkFromHomeWednesday.

This five-part Georgian mansion was built in the 1760s by William Paca, one of Maryland’s four Signers of the Declaration of Independence and the state’s third Governor. Carefully restored by Historic Annapolis beginning in 1965, today it is recognized as one of the finest 18 th -century homes in the country and a National Historic Landmark. Guided tours of the house, which features period furnishings and paintings, reveal the inner workings of an upper-class household in colonial and revolutionary Annapolis.

Painstakingly restored to its original splendor using details drawn from historic artwork and archaeological excavations, the two-acre colonial William Paca Garden is a picturesque retreat from the bustle of the city. Visitors can view native and heirloom plants while exploring the terraced landscape’s formal Parterres, naturalistic Wilderness, and practical Kitchen garden. The charming Summerhouse beckons guests to cross the latticework bridge over a fish-shaped pond. The garden frequently hosts weddings, receptions, and other special events.

Hours and Admission:

At this time, Hogshead, Waterfront Warehouse, and the James Brice House remain closed to the public. The William Paca House also remains closed for tours.

Annapolis is home to history

Four of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence were Marylanders.

Those four men - William Paca, Samuel Chase, Charles Carroll and Thomas Stone - had all been trained as lawyers. They were all in their 30s when they signed, and they all had homes in Annapolis. Remarkably, all four of those homes are standing today.

According to Glenn E. Campbell, a historian with the Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis is the only city in the nation with surviving homes from all its Declaration signers. In fact, only 15 signers' houses exist nationwide.

The Annapolis homes, in various states of preservation and use, offer rare glimpses at what life was like for the elite members of society during Colonial times.

The house that is most accessible to the public is the William Paca House and Garden, on Prince George Street, which has been meticulously restored and provides guided tours.

The Chase-Lloyd House, owned at one time by signer Samuel Chase, is now a home for retired women, though it is open at limited hours, and tours are given.

The Peggy Stewart House, home to Thomas Stone, is a private residence. And the Charles Carroll House is closed for renovations.

Here is a little about each house and the people who inhabited it. A good source for additional information is the new Annapolis history center, History Quest, at 99 Main St. The center offers guided audio tours of Annapolis during Revolutionary times, and includes stops at all four houses, Campbell said.

The William Paca House and Garden, 186 Prince George St., Annapolis, 410-267-7619. William Paca, according to written material provided by Campbell, was born in Baltimore in 1740 and went to school in Philadelphia before becoming a lawyer in Annapolis. He married heiress Mary Chew in 1763 and purchased two 1-acre lots in Annapolis a few days after his marriage.

After the Revolutionary War, he served three one-year terms as Maryland's governor and was a federal District Court judge for the last 10 years of his life. He died in 1799.

His house was sold in 1780 (Paca moved to Wye Island in Queen Anne's County) and changed hands many times in the 1800s. In 1901, it was expanded and became the Carvel Hotel. By the time the hotel closed in 1965, the original structure was in poor shape.

Historic Annapolis Foundation and local preservationists acquired the home and began doing serious research to re-create what it would have been like in Paca's time.

Today, the rooms are decorated in period furniture and the walls - painted in authentic colors - are decorated with portraits of people the Pacas might have known. Each room is set up as a tableau - in the parlor, a game of dominoes appears to be in progress in the kitchen, several pies are lined up near the hearth, waiting to be baked. The two stories that are open to the public include bedrooms.

The 2-acre property includes a terraced garden, with era-appropriate herbs and a scenic white bridge over a fish-shaped pond. No tours are given of the gardens, but visitors may get a glimpse of the local rabbits, or of Jefferson, the resident black cat.

The Paca House is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Tours are given every hour, on the half-hour, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for children.

The Chase-Lloyd House, 22 Maryland Ave., is considered one of the finest Colonial buildings in Annapolis, according to Architecture in Annapolis, published in 1998 by the Maryland Historical Trust.

Declaration signer Samuel Chase, born in 1741 in Somerset County, became a lawyer in Annapolis in 1759 and was friends with William Paca. He married Ann Baldwin in 1762. He served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court from 1796 until his death in 1811.

Chase started construction of the house in 1769, but ran short of funds and sold the incomplete structure to Edward Lloyd IV in 1771. The house, completed by Lloyd in 1774, was sold in the early 1800s to Judge Jeremiah Townley Chase and occupied by his nieces. In 1883, Hester Ann Chase Rideout bequeathed it to St. Anne's Episcopal Church for use as a home for elderly women. It has been used as such ever since.

The first floor of the building is open to the public from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, though it is closed in January and February. Guided tours take about a half-hour. Admission is $2.

Peggy Stewart House, 207 Hanover St. Declaration signer Thomas Stone purchased this home in 1783, four years before his death. The house, built by Thomas Rutland in the early 1760s, was named for one of its owners, Anthony Stewart, who was forced by an angry mob to burn his own ship, the Peggy Stewart (named after his daughter) after paying the controversial tea tax.

Stone, who was born in Charles County in 1743, studied law in Annapolis but practiced elsewhere in Maryland. He married Margaret Brown in 1768. After signing the Declaration of Independence, he helped draft the Articles of Confederation. He also served in the Maryland Senate.

The two-story, five-bay brick Georgian mansion, a National Historic Landmark, is privately owned.

The Charles Carroll House and Gardens, 107 Duke of Gloucester St. Charles Carroll of Carrollton, one of five Charles Carrolls who lived in Annapolis, was born in Maryland in 1737.

He was educated in France and England before returning to America in 1765. He married Mary Darnall in 1768 and moved into the house his father and grandfather had built.

Though he signed the Declaration and served in the state Senate, he is perhaps even better known for his business prowess, and he became one of the wealthiest men in the Colonies. He is also the only Catholic to have signed the Declaration. He died in Baltimore in 1832.

His house, believed to date to the mid-1600s, is closed for renovation and stabilization. It has been expanded and altered over the years and was owned by the Redemptorists of Maryland from 1852 to 1969, who used it as a residence, making alterations to suit their needs.

In 1987, Charles Carroll House of Annapolis Inc. was formed to restore the interior. Several interesting discoveries have been made on the property, including a cache of crystals believed to have held religious significance to the Carroll slaves.

Historic Annapolis: Paca House & Garden

Historic Annapolis: Paca House & Garden is a charming venue located in Annapolis, Maryland. With a classy and romantic ambiance, this venue provides the perfect intimate setting for weddings.

Facilities and Capacity
This venue can accommodate up to 150 people but can seat up to 120. Couples may choose to wed in the pristine gardens, which is ideal given the open landscapes. The garden features a Chinese Chippendale-style bridge overlooking the fish pond, four garden parterres with lovely florals and trees, as well as an updated and charming summerhouse. As a lovely and picturesque backdrop, the summerhouse is perfect for wedding photos! Couples may also wed in the summerhouse, but it can accommodate only eight guests for smaller ceremonies. After your ceremony, as you stroll back to the terrace for your festivities, you can wander through the lush gardens and stop to enjoy some lawn games or take a seat on a bench and just revel in the beauty of the day.

Services Offered
Historic Annapolis: Paca House & Garden is a full-service wedding planning venue. Their services include:

  • Event planning
  • Three event tents
  • Conference room for setup
  • Catering kitchen
  • Six guest passes for guided house and garden tour

Other Services
In addition, Historic Annapolis: Paca House & Garden offers to host your other wedding-related events. These celebrations include:

  • Engagement parties
  • Rehearsal dinners
  • Ceremonies
  • Wedding receptions
  • Anniversary parties
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William Paca

Charles Wilson Peale’s famous portrait of William Paca, painted in 1772, says much about the man. With arm akimbo, he is very much the self-assured diplomat, lawyer, planter, and patriot. An extremely attractive, tall, yet large, man, he exudes the charm, fashionable demeanor, and educated manner for which he was known. With a bust of Cicero beside him and his Annapolis garden and summerhouse in the background, Paca fills the

Wives – Ann “Molly” Mary Chew
Ann Harrison
(died 1780)

seven and a half foot canvas with the presence and confidence that would help win independence for the colonies. Many years later, Peale described his famous commission in these words: “A handsome man, more than six feet high, of portly appearance, being well educated and accustomed to the best company, [Paca] was graceful in his movements and complaisant to everyone in short, his manners were of the first polish. In the early period when the people’s eyes first became opened to their rights, …[he] made the first stand for the Independence of the People.”

Because all of Paca’s papers and diaries were destroyed when his house on Maryland’s Eastern Shore burned in 1879, it is portraits like this, in paint as well as print, that we must turn to in order to learn about the character and life of William Paca.

William Paca was born on October 31, 1740 at his family’s home in what is now Harford County, north of Baltimore. He was the second son of John and Elizabeth Smith Paca and the fourth generation of Pacas in Maryland. His great-grandfather Robert Paca had emigrated from England. The name Paca is pronounced PAY-ka we know this because of a rhyme that William Paca wrote. The name was most likely a corruption of the name Peaker, Packe, or Peake, to name a few contemporary documents that have shown different versions of Robert Paca’s last name.

Robert Paca was brought to the colonies before 1660 by a man named John Hall, who owned an estate in Anne Arundel County. To pay his transportation costs, Paca most likely indentured himself to Hall as a servant. After Hall’s death, Robert Paca married his widow, and thus acquired a family, position, and considerable property. Though Robert Paca did not die a wealthy man, he was able to put his family on the path to becoming landowners, planters, and public servants.

William Paca’s grandfather, Aquila Paca, Robert’s son, was able to purchase land at very reasonable prices and thus began his goal of amassing extensive acreage to assure that his sons would have sizeable estates and that his daughters would be able to marry well. He too married well his wife Martha Phillips was the daughter of a wealthy planter, who left her one-fourth of his fortune. Although Aquila Paca and Martha Phillips were married in the Anglican Church, he joined the Society of Friends, and their second son John, William Paca’s father, was raised as a Quaker. Aquila Paca was an important member of the community and held prominent positions. He served as sheriff of Baltimore County, as a county justice of the peace, and as a delegate in the provincial legislature, the General Assembly.

John Paca, William’s father, followed in his father’s footsteps. He too married well, became a wealthy planter, and served the people of Baltimore County in many capacities. He was a justice of the peace, a captain in the county militia, and was elected a delegate to the Lower House of the General Assembly, just like his father. His marriage to Elizabeth Smith brought him land and personal property of great value. It should also be noted that John Paca left the Quakers and returned to the Anglican Church, where he was married in 1732. John and Elizabeth Paca had seven children, two boys and five girls, all of whom were born in the Paca house near the village of Abingdon, in Baltimore County, the section of which later became a part of Harford County. As mentioned earlier, William Paca, who was born on October 31, 1740, was their second son.

Although there is no written documentation about William Paca’s boyhood, it would have entailed the same experiences as other sons of affluent planters of that era. He would have ridden horses, hunted, and explored the environs of his father’s plantation. Though there is no record as to whether he went to a local school or was privately tutored, Paca would have received a traditional education with Latin and religion as the core curriculum. As the second son, William Paca would not have inherited the bulk of his father’s estate, so his father made sure that he had an education and a career, in his case, in law.

At age twelve, William, along with his older brother, was sent to the Academy and Charity School in Philadelphia. William Paca graduated from the College of Philadelphia in 1759. Besides receiving an excellent education, Paca also graduated knowing well-connected people in Pennsylvania and Maryland. At nineteen years of age, William Paca arrived in Annapolis, Maryland, ready to embark on his career in law.

Annapolis was the perfect place for William Paca to begin his career, since it had become the provincial capital. He continued to study law and became the clerk for Stephen Bordley, the preeminent lawyer in the area. Paca helped found a debating society called the Forensic Club, which provided him with not only a means to develop his speaking skills but also to develop many social and political contacts. The Club debated the issues of the time, including whether democracy was a better form of government than monarchy. It was here that he also forged his friendship with Samuel Chase, who would also sign the Declaration of Independence.

Paca completed his legal training at the Middle Temple in London, which added to his prestige, and in 1763 he received a Master of Arts degree from the College of Philadelphia. He was later admitted to the bar of the Provincial Court in 1764. William Paca had everything that was needed to launch a career in law. He had an excellent education, he had excellent mentoring, and he had excellent training in the Mayor’s Court. But he still lacked the social status he would need to ensure that his career would be a successful one, and one that would allow him to move effortlessly into colonial politics. His position was assured when in 1763 he married Ann Mary Chew, whose nickname was Molly.

The daughter of Henrietta Maria Lloyd and Samuel Chew, who died when she was an infant, Molly Chew was related to many of the prominent and wealthy families in the colony. Molly was a direct descendant of John Chew who arrived at Jamestown in 1622, with three servants, on the ship Charitie. She was raised in the home of her stepfather, Daniel Dulany, one of the richest and most politically influential landowners in the province. The Pacas soon moved into the five-part Georgian mansion they built in Annapolis.

In 1765 William Paca and Samuel Chase founded the county’s Sons of Liberty and mobilized support against the Stamp Act. Paca’s public popularity as a result of his involvement led him to be elected to the city’s Common Council in 1766. The next year he was elected as a delegate to the Lower House, as his forefathers had been. His political career was underway, and his popularity and influence continued to grow, as did his reputation for working diligently behind the scenes, leaving others, such as Chase, to bask in the limelight.

Paca spent much of his time writing letters and newspaper articles in support of independence, and he also wrote many of the speeches that Chase made. But despite being characterized as a private and reserved person, Paca could also display a bold and independent spirit. In 1773, an act expired that regulated tobacco and fees for certain officers. Paca joined other Maryland patriots in urging the governor to not continue the act. But when the governor could not be dissuaded, Paca, with his friend Samuel Chase, staged a protest. They formed a procession leading to a gallows where they hanged the governor’s proclamation. Afterwards they enclosed the proclamation in a coffin, dug a grave, and buried it. To accompany the burial ceremony, guns were fired from a schooner owned by Paca. Even though he certainly preferred to be in the background writing essays and forming strategies, he could also take the lead.

But Paca’s life was shortly beset by tragedy. Molly Chew’s death in 1774 left him grief stricken. She most likely had died as a result of the birth of their third child. The politics of the day, however, soon absorbed his attention. The oppressive Tea Act and the erosion of trust between England and the colonies led Paca to organize committees and actively oppose the Boston Port Act. In September, 1774, Paca joined the first Continental Congress when it met in Philadelphia. It was here that Paca became friends with John Adams, who referred to him as the “deliberater” and wrote to Samuel Chase on July 1, 1776, that “Paca [acted] generously and nobly” during the convention. Paca signed the Olive Branch Petition in 1775, in the failed attempt to achieve reconciliation with Great Britain.

William Paca was, in the words of Benjamin Rush, “beloved and respected by all who knew him, and considered at all times as a sincere patriot and honest man.” Paca and his fellow Marylanders worked hard to gather support throughout Maryland in support of independence. When the Maryland legislature removed the restrictions on her delegates, Paca voted for independence on July 2, 1776 and signed the Declaration of Independence on August 2. When he signed the Declaration, Paca knew that this was just the beginning of making the promise of freedom a reality for the people of America.

Paca continued his role as a delegate in the Continental Congress in 1776 and 1777. Paca was elected a member of the Senate of Maryland in November, 1776, and in 1778 he was appointed a judge of the General Court. It was up to him to maintain stability on the Eastern Shore amidst outbreaks of treason and insurrections. He resigned later that year after accomplishing this goal. But the bench appealed to him, and in 1780 Congress appointed him judge of a newly created Court of Appeals.

In 1777, William Paca married for the second time, Ann Harrison, a young woman sixteen years his junior and the daughter of a wealthy and prominent Philadelphia merchant Henry Harrison, who had been the mayor of Philadelphia. She too brought a considerable fortune to the marriage. They split their time between Philadelphia and Paca’s Wye Island estate on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Paca sold the house in Annapolis. Ann Paca died in 1780 after a long illness, perhaps as a result of childbirth she was only twenty-three years old. Paca never remarried.

William Paca had six children, two of whom were illegitimate. He had three children with his first wife, Mary Chew: Henrietta Maria, who was born in 1764 and died in infancy John Philemon (1771-1840) who married Juliana Tilghman and William who was born in 1774 and died five years later.

Mary Chew Paca became the guardian of her niece, also named Henrietta Maria, and this has caused some confusion in the past, with some authors assuming that she was also a daughter of the Pacas, though she was not. Paca’s second wife, Ann Harrison, had one child, Henry, who was born in 1778 and died in 1781. Thus, of his legitimate heirs, only John Philemon lived into adulthood.

Paca also fathered two illegitimate daughters: Hester, born in Philadelphia in 1775 to a “mulatto” woman named Levina and Henrietta Maria, his second daughter with that name, born c. 1777 to Sarah Joice of Annapolis. It is important to note that Paca provided for the education and welfare of both of his “natural” daughters. Though there is no record of Hester reaching adulthood, Henrietta Maria did, and records show that she married and moved with her husband to Kentucky.

In recognition of his wartime services and support for the military, Paca was made a member of the Society of the Cincinnati and became Vice President of the Maryland Chapter from 1784 until 1787. This was a remarkable achievement and recognition, since membership in the Society was reserved for army officers.

A firm believer in states rights and individual rights, Paca was a leader of the Antifederalist movement in Maryland. Even though he had many reservations, he voted in 1788 to approve the Constitution. He advocated 28 amendments to the Constitution, including those on freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and protection against judicial tyranny, and many of his proposed amendments became a part of the Bill of Rights. Paca continued his service to the state and the nation, when President George Washington appointed him judge for the Court of Maryland in 1789. He held this post until his death.

William Paca died on Wye Island on October 13, 1799, a few weeks shy of his fifty-ninth birthday. He was buried on the grounds of the estate, a few miles north of Easton, Maryland.

The legacy of William Paca can still be experienced by visiting his home in Annapolis. The William Paca House and Gardens have been meticulously restored, complete with the gardens and summerhouse, depicted in Charles Willson Peale’s famous portrait of Maryland’s signer, and is managed by the Historic Annapolis Foundation. The construction of the home was completed in 1765, in a Georgian style evoking the English country villas of the time, and has been restored. The interior features antique furniture, silverware, and works of art. Each room is designed to show various aspects of the life of William and Mary Paca. The home is noteworthy for its two acres of elegant gardens restored to their original appearance, including five terraces, a fish-shaped pond, and a wilderness garden.

William Paca’s House and Gardens, Annapolis

Wye Hall, his estate on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, is now in private hands. The original house was destroyed by fire in 1879, and the present Wye Hall was built in 1936 on the foundation of the country house built by William Paca. It is a five-part house designed in the Colonial Revival style, and was built as a residence for the former King Edward the VIII of the United Kingdom and his wife, the former Wallis Warfield of Baltimore. A highway marker has been placed near Paca’s Wye plantation.

But more importantly, his legacy can be felt every time one enjoys the liberties that the signers and patriots fought for. William Paca put his life and property on the line when he represented the citizens of Maryland at the Continental Congress and when he supported the troops who fought in the Revolutionary War. His reputation as a cultured, purposeful, and responsible man earned him the respect of his peers and the citizenship at large. In addition to signing the Declaration of Independence, which launched this country on its path towards democracy and freedom, William Paca set forth the amendments that would become the Bill of Rights. Though his life was touched with tragedy, Paca continued to dedicate himself to public service – one that gave birth to a new state and a new nation.

In Washington, D.C., near the Washington monument, is a small park and lagoon dedicated to the memory of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and one of the 56 granite blocks there bears the name of “William Paca.” John Trumbull’s famous painting, “The Declaration of Independence”, hangs in the rotunda of the U. S. Capitol. Near the left side of the painting, there are five standing figures. William Paca is the first standing figure on the left, and standing next to him is his good friend Samuel Chase.

Virginia White, descendant, 2011


  • Andrews, Matthew Page. History of Maryland: Province and State 1965, Pennsylvania: Tradition Press.
  • Barthelmas, Della Gray, The Signers of the Declaration of Independence, A Biographical and Genealogical Reference, 1997, McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers, Box 611, Jefferson, NC 28640
  • Ferris, Robert G., The Signers of the Declaration of Independence,, Washington: U.S. Department of the Interior, 1975.
  • Goodrich, Charles A., Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, 1829. (Colonial Hall)
  • Howard, Hugh. Houses of the Founding Fathers. New York: Artisan, 2007.
  • Lossing, B. J., Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, Originally published in 1848. Reprinted in 1995 by Wallbuilder Press. P.O. Box 397, Aledo, TX 76008-0397, 2008
  • Russo, Jean B. A Question of Reputation: William Paca’s Courtship of Polly Tilghman. Annapolis, Historic Annapolis Foundation, 2000.
  • Scharf, J. Thomas. History of Maryland Vol. II. Pennsylvania, Tradition Press, 1967.
  • Stiverson, Gregory A. and Phebe R. Jacobsen. William Paca: A Biography. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1976.
  • White, Frank F. The Governors of Maryland: 1777-1970. Baltimore: Twentieth Century, 1970.

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William Paca House and Garden - History

D uring the Great Depression, a group of men, residents of New Providence, joined together to form a club or organization. Although current membership is unrelated to the cultural background of the members, the club was named after a Senator and later Governor of Maryland, William Paca, the only signer of the Declaration of Independence who was of Italian decent. So the club became The William Paca Club of New Providence, NJ in his honor a social and civic club.

During the Depression, members of the William Paca Club helped many families of New Providence who were in need. Amongst these were some residents who received assistance in becoming citizens of The United States of America.

In 1943 the club received a certificate of incorporation and thereby officially became The William Paca Club of New Providence.

Originally, meetings were held in the basement in the home of Ralph Parlapiano on High Street, and soon the place of meetings moved to a house on First Street, rented from Louis Napolitano. In 1944, when the Ladies Auxiliary was formed and the club had grown to require a larger facility, the club purchased its current facility on 1 William Paca Place. While meetings were temporarily held in the greenhouse of Pat Romano, the members raised funds to buy materials and pay for any work that had to be contracted, while most of the work was completed by the club's members. The club house was completed in December of 1947, and in January of 1948 the then Mayor of New Providence, Honorable Ellsworth Hansell, officiated the opening ceremonies, with the Borough Council and other town officials in attendance.

Since then, the club has participated in borough affairs, marched in the Memorial Day Parades, distributed box lunches to the children after the parades, and participated in any functions for which the club could provide assistance. In addition, this non-profit club raises funds through fundraising events in order to provide assistance with various community service.

Members of the club continue the historic traditions of the club, and participate in the upkeep and renovations of our club house and its facilities. In addition to regular cleaning tasks before and after functions, members volunteer to attend a monthly in-depth cleaning that could be compared to the spring cleaning of your home. Special talents of our members are greatly appreciated in upkeep and improvements of the club's electric, plumbing, landscaping, audio/visual systems and more.

W illiam Paca’s great-grandfather, Robert Paca, was the first of the Paca family to immigrate to America. He landed in the Colonies in 1657 and died in 1721. (A tradition in the Paca family gives its origin as Italian and of the same ancestral blood as that of Pope Leo XIII.) Robert Paca, one of the original settlers in Maryland, came to America from Italy by way of England and in 1651, was granted a track of 490 acres in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, “for transporting nine men into the Province, according to the conditions of the plantations.” Subsequently, in 1663 other large land tracts lying between Chesapeake Bay, Henry Creek and Lyons Creek in Arundel County were also granted Robert Paca.

Robert Paca married the daughter of one of the commissioners appointed by Oliver Cromwell to govern Maryland. They had a son, Aquila, who became “high sheriff”. Aquila Paca was the first Italian American to occupy any public office in the Colonies.

William Paca, second son of John Paca and Elizabeth Smith, was born in Hartford County, Maryland, on October 31, 1740 and the large landed properties in the new world inherited by the Pacas enabled him to obtain a liberal education. He traveled extensively it to Italy, and was admitted to the London legal profession in 1763. While in England he married Mary Chew. They had three children, though only their son, John Philemon survived into adulthood.

William Paca plunged into the fight on the side of the Colonists by denouncing the Stamp Act in 1765 and became a leader in opposition to every British measure of oppression. He was a member of the Maryland Assembly from 1771 to 1774 and a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1779. During the Revolution, William Paca was zealous Patriot and contributed many funds to the cause. He was elected Governor of Maryland in 1782 and reelected in 1783. He thus had the distinction of not only being a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but the first Italian-American to serve as a Governor of a state.

Governor Paca was interred in the family burial ground at Wye, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, adjoining the county seat “Wye Hall” on Paca’s Island. His town house in Annapolis, also known as Carver Hall Hotel, is now the historical William Paca House and Gardens.

William Paca Garden

Located at 186 Prince George Street, the William Paca House stands in the center of the Historical District of the City of Annapolis. Directly behind the restored mansion sits a large 2-acre 18th century pleasure garden, a garden that up until 40 years ago was lost to history. William Paca, signer of the Declaration of Independence and former governor of Maryland built his Annapolis house and garden in the early 1760s. Paca owned the property until 1780. Through the remainder of the 18th and all of the 19th centuries, the house and garden had a succession of private owners (Historic Annapolis Foundation 2002). While the house had been maintained over the years, Paca's garden fell into disrepair. The historic garden met its final end in 1901 when the property was sold and a hotel was constructed overtop the historic landscape.

When Carvel Hall Hotel was demolished, Historic Annapolis Foundation raised the money to purchase the historic William Paca House. Following the acquisition of the William Paca House and Garden in 1965, Historic Annapolis, Inc. began drawing up plans for reconstruction of William Paca's 18th century garden. Although the garden property was under the ownership of the State of Maryland, the Maryland Historical Trust turned responsibility for the restoration of the garden over to Historic Annapolis. In 1966, the Garden Committee was formed. From 1966 to 1973, the Garden Committee, headed by St. Clair Wright, was responsible for making all decisions related to the garden reconstruction.

The Garden Committee initially believed an exact reproduction of the original garden design would not be possible. Any documentation of the construction of the garden had been lost, believed to have been destroyed during the fire at his Wye Island home 1879. In addition, construction of Carvel Hall Hotel erased all physical evidence of the historic landscape that may have existed through the 19th century. As a result, the Garden Committee decided the only alternative would be construction of a fanciful garden on the site of William Paca's lost garden(Wright 1966). The plan called for the creation of a garden that would reflect typical landscape styles found in England during William Paca's time period and not Paca's actual garden.

As plans for the garden were in development, Historic Annapolis contracted National Park Service archaeologist, Bruce Powell, to conduct an archaeological investigation of the site. Powell's investigation led to the discovery of several features dating to Paca's period. As St. Clair Wright stated in her report, The Once and Future Garden of William Paca:

Rather than lose these valuable resources of the original form of the 18th century garden, Maryland Historic Trust, with commendable resiliency, decide to pursue the additional archaeological work that would make it possible to restore and reconstruct, when necessary, the original garden instead of creating a fanciful one. (Wright 1976).

Historic Annapolis's new commitment to reconstruct William Paca's historic garden began in 1967. At that time, the Garden Committee contracted with archaeologists and researchers to recover as much information about William Paca's garden as possible, both through historical documentation and archaeologically. Those charged with conducting the garden restoration utilized all available information in order to rebuild Paca's garden as accurately as possible.

The information obtained about the historic garden by archaeologists Bruce Powell (1966) and Glenn Little (1967-68) was surprising. They discovered William Paca's garden had not been destroyed, only hidden over the years. Excavations of the north half of the property by King George Street uncovered a number of historic features including: a pond, canal, bridge, outbuildings, and drainage system all dating to William Paca's time. Bruce Powell and Glenn Little found that the original grade of the landscape was untouched.

Landscape designer Laurance Brigham and architect Orin Bullock conducted the restoration of William Paca's garden in the early 1970s. Drawing on archaeological data and historical documentation regarding the William Paca Garden and other similar period gardens, Brigham and Bullock resurrected a significant aspect of Annapolis history. Major restoration of the William Paca Garden concluded in 1972, however additional archaeological testing of the landscape continued for another twenty years.

In 1975, Kenneth and Ronald Orr conducted additional archaeological testing of the lower garden in and around the vicinity of the fourth garden fall and terrace. The work they did provided Historic Annapolis with the information needed to determine the location of the garden pavilion as well as the interior design of the garden springhouse. Eight years later Ann Yentsch conducted additional testing of the springhouse interior. The project sought to determine whether any additional 18th century materials could be located. The final excavation of the William Paca Garden began in 1990. Laura Galke, Historic Annapolis Curator of Archaeology, performed additional testing around the artificial brick stream located below the third garden fall. The excavations by conducted by Kenneth and Ronald Orr, Ann Yentsch and Laura Galke were comparatively smaller in scale to that of Bruce Powell and Glenn Little, however the information they provided is just as valuable to understanding William Paca's historic garden.

Using the archaeological data collected by Bruce Powell, Glenn Little, and Kenneth and Ronald Orr, in conjunction with historical records, garden dictionaries, photographs and portraits, Brigham and Bullock directed a scientifically accurate restoration of the two-acre landscape Paca built (Leone 1987). The restored William Paca Garden is unique. The garden built by Willia

William Paca and his Annapolis Home

On May 30, 1763, William Paca purchased two adjacent plots of land between Prince George Street and King George Street in Annapolis, Maryland. Over the next two years, Paca designed and oversaw the construction of his home and garden.

Paca would have had a number of gardening dictionaries available to him in order to plan the design of his adjoining pleasure garden. Philip Miller's Gardening Dictionary (1748), Alexander Le Blond's The Theory in the Practice of Gardening (1722), and Batty Langley's New Principles in Gardening (1728) were all known to be available in Annapolis prior to and during the time Paca constructed his garden. Published in Europe in the early 18th century, these dictionaries provide instruction on how to design a pleasure garden according to the ideals of symmetry and order. Any formal garden in the city or on a manor in the country would have been built using these detailed books (Leone 1987). The books contained descriptions of landscape engineering, buildings, and water control. In early 18th century England, overt geometric garden patterns utilizing terraces and parterres were popular. Closer to Paca's time, naturalistic gardens were becoming more popular. While still employing geometric principles, naturalistic gardens, like their predecessors, were created for the purpose of controlling views toward focal points. Paca may have incorporated both earlier and more modern designs in his formal garden.

Paca lived at his Annapolis home until 1780. In 15 years there Paca became increasingly involved in events that led to the American Revolution. His involvement culminated in 1774 when Paca began to attend the Continental Congress. In 1776, Paca voted for and subsequently signed the Declaration of Independence. Paca later resigned his position as delegate and took a position as a judge of the Admiralty Court, which tried cases involving maritime issues. On July 25,1780, Paca sold his Annapolis home to Thomas Jenings, Attorney General of Maryland.

In 1901, Annapolis Hotel Corporation acquired the William Paca House and Garden. The Paca House was renovated to serve as the new hotel's lobby. Directly behind the house on the site of the historic garden, a 200-room hotel was constructed, completely erasing any evidence of the historic pleasure garden above ground. Named Carvel Hall, the hotel opened in 1906. From 1906 to 1965 Carvel Hall served as Annapolis' most popular residence for members of the Maryland legislature, naval officers, and families visiting the state capital. In 1911, a fire burned through Carvel Hall Hotel. While the fire devastated the 200-room structure, the building was eventually rebuilt and continued to serve Annapolis for another 54 years. In 1965 the hotel and historic Paca House were purchased as part of a plan to use the land to construct a new apartment/office complex, destroying the existing hotel and historic Paca House.

A decade earlier, in 1952, Historic Annapolis Incorporated (H.A.I.) had been established. At that time, Historic Annapolis' mission was to preserve threatened buildings of historical and cultural significance in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. When it was made public that the William Paca House and Carvel Hall were to be razed, Historic Annapolis raised $250,000 and purchased the house but was unable to raise the money to purchase the adjoining 2 acres. Urged by Historic Annapolis Inc., the Maryland General Assembly purchased the remaining land that was once the site of William Paca's historic garden. Shortly after H.A.I. acquired the properties, efforts were undertaken to restore both the house and garden properties to their appearance in William Paca's time.

William Paca's records regarding the construction of the house and garden were not available to restoration architects. In 1879, Paca's Wye Hall home caught fire causing extensive damage to the house as well as the items inside. Because no records could be located at the time of the restoration process, it is presumed that any extant records kept by Paca about the construction of his house and garden were lost in this fire. As a result, restoration architects and landscapers sought information on the house and garden in alternative materials, such as letters, as well as the existing remains on the property. Aside from some minor structural changes to the house's exterior and wings, much of the original house remained intact and in good condition. However, the restoration of the garden was a different matter. While much of the historic garden remained mostly untouched for 120 years after Paca sold the property, construction of Carvel Hall Hotel in 1901 erased any surface evidence of the original landscape.

Archival Information

Years before the construction of Carvel Hall Hotel, two paintings, one in 1772 and another in 1884, were created of the historic garden. Charles Willson Peale, a renowned painter, was hired by William Paca to paint his portrait in 1772. The painting depicts Paca standing along a wall with his Annapolis garden in the background. While Paca is the focus of the portrait, a number of garden features can be identified as well: summerhouse in the center rear of the garden, a one story brick structure with a pyramid roof to the right of the pavilion, a slotted brick wall behind the two structures running along King George Street, and finally a small pond located just in front of the pavilion. The Peale painting identifies several of the garden's outbuildings, but fails to provide any detailed information about the landscape of the garden aside from the pond and pavilion.

American artist Frank B. Mayer, created a second painting of the garden in 1884. The painting depicts the upper garden elevation as well as the rear of the house. In the Mayer sketch one can identify a slotted brick wall along the southwest portion of the garden, identical to the wall depicted in the Peale portrait. In addition, two falls and three terraces are shown extending toward King George Street with a central pathway originating at the upper terrace directly across from the southeast hyphen and bisecting the garden. While the portrait was created in the late 19th century, little modification to the landscape is recorded to have been done between 1765 and 1884 suggesting that many of the features identified in the Mayer sketch may have existed during Paca's ownership of the house and garden.

Additional information about the garden was also found in a number of documents from the 19th and early 20th centuries:

  • "Our new house is enormously big, four rooms below, three large and two small ones on the second floor besides the staircase, and the finest garden in Annapolis in which there is a spring, a cold bath house well fitted up and a running stream. What more could I wish for?" (Stier 1797)
  • "This garden, perhaps, more than any other spot, indicated the delightful life of Annapolis a century ago. The springhouse, the expanse of trees and shrubbery, the octagonal two-story summerhouse, that represented 'My lady's bower', the artificial brook, fed by two springs of water, that went rippling along to the bath house that refreshed in the sultry days, and gave delight to the occupants, form a picture tradition loves to dwell upon to this day." (Riley 1887)
  • "- on the ground before mentioned is a spring of flowing water, highly valued, being an original feature of the place, having a right of way through an arch in the boundary wall." (Evening Capital 1905)

The historical documents serve to verify the existence of several outbuildings and features identified in the Mayer and Peale paintings, specifically the summerhouse and bathhouse. In addition, the documents also describe a number of other features not found in the paintings such as the artificial stream and the springhouse. However, the documents, like the paintings, failed to provide enough information to accurately reconstruct the historic landscape. While the paintings and documentation do suggest which buildings and features may have existed in Paca's garden, the overall topography of the area remained a mystery. As a result, in 1966 Historic Annapolis Inc. began the first of a series of archaeological excavations at the William Paca Garden. Over the next nine years, archaeology, aided by the historical documentation, served as Historic Annapolis' primary means of identifying the original landscape of the William Paca Garden.

Bruce Powell's 1966 Excavation of the William Paca Garden

The first series of excavations conducted at the William Paca Garden was carried out during the period of August 15 through August 26, 1966. National Park Service archaeologist Bruce Powell conducted the project. While the William Paca Garden is entrusted to Historic Annapolis Foundation, the site is a part of the National Historic District of Annapolis and a registered National Historic Landmark. As such, the National Park Service of the United States Department of the Interior provided the direction of the excavation. Because of the limited amount of time available to Bruce Powell to complete his research, the decision was made to employ the use of mechanical digging equipment to excavate test trenches covering as much of the garden area as possible.

A grid system was laid out using King George Street as the north-south line. The datum for the grid was set at the northeast corner of the property. In total, five test trenches were laid out in the garden. All test trenches were laid out in reference to the established grid. The first trenches to be laid out were test trenches one and two. Both trenches were laid out along the west side of the garden property in order to test the depth of the foundations of Carvel Hall and to determine whether anything remained of the historic wall along the north property line.

Two additional trenches, test trenches three and four, were placed in a north-south orientation across a grass plot and into the Carvel Hall parking lot located in the eastern third of the garden area (Powell 1966). Finally, the fifth test trench was laid in an east-west orientation. Test trench five began along the east boundary of the property and extended one hundred thirty-two feet towards the William Paca House. According to Bruce Powell (1966), test trench five would have extended the full extent of the garden, but the trenching was cut short possibly due to project time restrictions.

Four structural features were identified during his excavation of the garden. Structures one and two were identified as remnants of the original garden wall. They were found in the southwestern portion of the garden along the west property line. The southwestern portion is documented in Frank B. Mayer's 1884 sketch of the rear of the William Paca House. The section of the brick wall located in the southwestern side of the garden was found in test trenches one and two. In test trench 5, the foundation of another portion of the wall was located along the north property line, or King George Street side of the garden. Powell found a third structure located in test trench five. According to Powell, the feature (structure 2) was of unknown use, measuring 3 feet 9 inches long by 1 foot 10.5 inches wide. The final structure located by the Powell excavations was also found in test trench five. The structure was a line of unbonded brick, two rows wide and one course deep. It was found crossing test trench five in an east-west direction at a depth 7.5 feet below the surface. Because of the depth of the structure, Powell identified it as being associated with the historic Paca period of the garden.

Three of five trenches excavated by Powell provided evidence of the historic garden wall that bordered Paca's garden. The discovery of the wall confirmed the extent of the dimensions along the north and eastern sides of the property. Additionally, analysis of the remains revealed the design and materials used in the construction of the original garden wall.

Aside from the discovery of the walls and garden grade, the excavations failed to produce a substantial amount of artifacts from the 18th century. In addition, the Powell excavations were not able to locate the historic stream, pond, or outbuildings of William Paca's garden. Powell recommended that no further information could be gathered about the garden through archaeology. Historic Annapolis Inc. felt the excavations in fact demonstrated that additional archaeological testing would be an invaluable resource in gaining a greater understanding of the design of the William Paca Garden.

Glenn Little's 1967-68 Excavation of the William Paca Garden

In light of the discoveries made during the Powell excavations in 1966, Historic Annapolis, Inc., decided additional archaeological testing would reveal more information regarding the 18th century design of the garden. While the Powell excavations were able to identify the 18th century surface of the garden, his testing area was too small to make an accurate analysis of the exact topography during William Paca's occupation of the site.

Glenn Little, of Contract Archaeology Inc. (C.A.I.), was hired to conduct a more thorough excavation of the garden property. By the time Glenn Little was hired in 1967, the demolition of Carvel Hall had been completed allowing excavations to be conducted over the entire surface of the garden, an opportunity unavailable to Bruce Powell.

Glenn Little's excavations were conducted in two field seasons over a one-year period from 1967 to 1968. The first phase of Little's excavations began on March 30, 1967 and continued until December 1, 1967. The second phase of testing picked up the following year on August 1st concluded by the end of September 1968.

The 1967 Excavations

Little began excavating the William Paca Garden on March 30, 1967. Using information from the Bruce Powell excavation a year earlier, Little placed a series of 19 trenches along the west, north, and eastern sides of the garden. The core drillings were also done through the rest of the garden area in order to reveal any information related to the 18th - century surface of the garden. The core drillings and trench excavations revealed that an enormous amount of fill and rubble covered much of the historic garden surface. The testing also showed, aside from some isolated areas along the east and west sides of the garden, very little of the northern half of the historic garden surface had been disturbed by 19th or 20th century construction on the site. As for the southern half of the garden, Little found the soils in that area to have been too heavily disturbed by the construction of Carvel Hall to produce any meaningful information.

Based on analysis of the core drillings, Little was able to produce a contour map identifying the original grade of the William Paca Garden (Little, March 1967). Glenn Little suggests the 18th - century surface was designed as a terraced garden sloping in a south- north direction from the William Paca House toward King George Street. Additional evidence of the terraced garden was also found during the excavation of trenches along the east and west sides of the garden area were evidence of original walls were unearthed.

During the excavation of trenches 7, 14, 24, 30, 34, and 49, evidence of an artificial brick stream was found within the 18th century surface of the historic garden. Located fifteen feet from the base of the third fall, the stream runs in an eastward direction to a distance of 25 feet from the east wall (Little, November 1967).

Remains of a structure was unearthed during the excavation of the artificial brick stream in trench 49. While excavating the brick stream, Little uncovered the foundations of a structure in the northeast corner of the garden. Excavation of trench 49 did reveal an underground drain running through the excavated portions of the foundation. According to a letter written by Glenn Little on December 5, 1967, a drainage system for the garden was being installed during the excavation of the bathhouse foundation. As a result, Little was unable to fully excavate the structure in the time allotted to him. The canal measured about 2 feet wide and 10 feet long. It extended in an west-east direction with the eastern portion of the drain veering to the southeast toward the artificial brick stream. Little concluded that the foundations and canal could be the remains of the bathhouse mentioned in the site's historical documentation.

The 1968 Excavations

On August 1, 1968, Glenn Little and Contract Archaeology Inc. began the second phase of archaeological testing at the William Paca Garden. A series of 22 trenches were placed throughout the lower garden area beginning at the third fall and extending to the north garden wall along King George Street. The purpose of the excavation was to conduct additional analysis of the drain features identified during the 1967 excavation as well as to attempt to determine the historic locations of the pavilion and springhouse.

Through the course of the 1967 excavation a series of underground square brick pipes were found running in a west to east direction along the base of the fourth fall. Although during the previous excavation Little was unable to unearth the full extent of the drains, he believed they may have originated somewhere along the northwest side of the garden. Little also believed the springhouse and bathhouse were located on opposite sides of the garden. The excavation of trench 49 revealed the remains of a foundation in the northeast corner of the garden. Little placed two trenches, T57 and T58, in the northwest garden area with the hope of uncovering the remains of Paca's garden springhouse.

Excavation of trench 57 revealed the foundations of a nine-foot square structure with the north wall of the structure measuring roughly 33 feet from the north garden wall. The structure consisted of a base of mortared fieldstones just below the 1780 surface level of the garden. According to Little, the fieldstones were large, creating a massive foundation for the structure (Little 1990). The stones measured roughly from .5 to 1.5 feet wide and were cut nearly three feet into the subsoil creating a firm base for the structure.

Little concluded the structure found in trench 57 was indeed William Paca's garden springhouse. Additionally, Little deduced how the springhouse functioned during the Paca Period:

  • "- water is collected from the springhouse to the northwest and west feeder drain, underneath the collecting box and rises to the top by pressure. The force obviously provided water for the adjacent trough also, the overflow exited through the north (east) brick drain." (Little 1990).

Two trenches were excavated in and around the fourth terrace and fall, one within the fall and the other placed where Powell located structure 2. Following the examination of structure 2, Little suspected that it might have been the remains of the rear portion of the summerhouse foundation. He further hypothesized that the foundations of the summerhouse may not have been as substantial as that of the bathhouse or springhouse. While both the springhouse and bathhouse were constructed entirely of stone and brick, it is possible that only brickwork was used in the construction of the summerhouse floor. The remainder of the structure may have consisted of wood with plaster walls, and may have been more susceptible to deterioration.

During the excavations along the north wall, Little found that a gate opening was cut through the wall directly behind structure 2. A late 19th - century photograph of the garden taken from the State House dome further supports the existence of the gate. Given that a gate may have existed in the north garden wall directly behind the summerhouse, the summerhouse would have prevented clear direct access in and out of the garden for pedestrians and wagons. Little further believed constant foot and cart traffic coming in and out of the gate must have destroyed most of the structure's remaining foundations (Eareckson 1977).

The 1975 Orr Excavation of the Garden

In the spring of 1975, Historic Annapolis, Inc. sought to conduct further archaeological testing on the William Paca Garden. Historic Annapolis thought additional testing in and around the reconstructed springhouse and summerhouse sites would provide information regarding their design. Previous excavations conducted by Glenn Little provided Historic Annapolis with the location of the springhouse however, they remained uncertain about the interior design of the structure. In addition, Historic Annapolis was not convinced of the exact location of the summerhouse seen in the 1772 Charles Willson Peale portrait of William Paca. Historic Annapolis, Inc. contracted with Dr. Kenneth Orr and Ronald Orr to carry out the fourth phase of garden excavation in order to answer these questions. The archaeological investigations by the Orrs included excavation of the lower garden area, analysis of previous digs, and consultation with Orin M. Bullock, Jr., the architect in charge of reconstructing the garden outbuildings (Orr 1975). The excavations were carried out from March 19th through April 15th 1975.

The purpose of the 1975 excavation was to uncover the remains of the springhouse interior prior to its reconstruction (Orr and Orr 1975). The exterior of the structure had already been reconstructed following the Glenn Little excavations. The reconstructed springhouse consisted of a 9-foot square structure with a pyramidal roof, similar to appearance of the bathhouse in the Peale portrait.

The Orrs located the historic interior surface of the structure (identified by the Orrs in their report as floor 1). According to their report, the basin and trough feature were clearly identifiable as outlined pools of mud. While none of the wood lining described by Little was present, the wooden stakes used to support the boards were still visible.

Close examination of the trough, basin, and surrounding bricks led Kenneth and Ronald Orr to determine initially that the trough and basin feature were not constructed with the historic, or Paca period, floor. According to their report, the bricks immediately surrounding the trough and basin were aligned in a non-conforming manner, suggesting the features cut through the historic floor rather than having been built contemporary with it (Orr and Orr 1975). Their excavation also found that the bricks to the east of the trough were set in a uniform manner to run to a drain located in the northeastern side of the springhouse. Their resulting interpretation was that while the trough and basin features may not have been contemporary with the Paca period, the northeastern drain was, keeping the spring water below the level of the historic surface.

The brick floor found during the excavation of the 19th century level was constructed when Paca occupied the site. According to the Orrs, the bricks making up the historic floor were identical to those that were used in construction of the original walls of the springhouse (Orr and Orr 1975). Directly below the same area, the Orrs unearthed a level of fieldstones directly below the bricks, possibly used to serve as the building's base. A level of mud was identified to the north of the fieldstones. Excavation of this strata revealed a second catchment basin constructed of brick and foundation stones located at an elevation of 3.17 feet. During the process of excavating the basin, the Orrs unearthed a bottle base fragment made of dark glass with a conical hollow base and globular body (Orr and Orr 1975). Examination of the artifact dated it to the 18th century. According to their report, the Orrs determined that this lower basin was constructed and utilized during the William Paca period. Further investigation shows water from the natural spring ran into the basin from the north of the feature. Once collected, water then flowed out of the springhouse through the drain at the south east of the structure.

Directly below the same area, the Orrs unearthed a level of fieldstones directly below the bricks, possibly used to serve as the building's base. A level of mud was identified to the north of the fieldstones. Excavation of this strata revealed a second catchment basin constructed of brick and foundation stones located at an elevation of 3.17 feet. During the process of excavating the basin, the Orrs unearthed a bottle base fragment made of dark glass with a conical hollow base and globular body (Orr and Orr 1975). Examination of the artifact dated it to the 18th century. According to their report, the Orrs determined that this lower basin was constructed and utilized during the William Paca period. Further investigation shows water from the natural spring ran into the basin from the north of the feature. Once collected, water then flowed out of the springhouse through the drain at the south east of the structure.

The Orrs first goal was to locate the feature Powell called Structure 2. Once the Orrs rediscovered Structure 2, they noticed the feature had been reduced from 5-6 brick courses down to three, with some bricks dislodged in the structure and others scattered around the base of the trench. The base of structure 2 was found to be at an elevation of 6.31 feet above sea level. Examination of structure 2 revealed additional information not identified during Bruce Powell’s excavation in 1966. According to Powell's report, structure 2 was a rectangular feature composed of mortared brick. Additionally, on the northern area of the structure, an 8-½ inch semicircular hole was found to run through the feature originating at the top of the structure and running down through the base. During the examination of the feature, the Orrs found an unexcavated posthole at the base of the semicircular hole. The hole was rectangular in shape roughly two to three inches in length. Inside the post, several pieces of wood, 3-5 inches in length, were recovered. Kenneth and Ronald Orr suggest that the pole would have served as a supporting timber for the summerhouse.

Reconstruction of the William Paca Garden

Between 1967 and 1968, Laurance Brigham began the first design for the restored William Paca Garden. At that time, the findings from the Powell excavations were available to Brigham. Contract Archaeology supplied Brigham with charts and oral consultations based on Glenn Little's first phase of excavations in 1967 (Wright 1973). With all available archaeological information at his disposal, Brigham was aware of the locations of the bathhouse, artificial brick stream, and pond.

The first garden design was completed in February 1968. Brigham proposed:

  • "- the garden to be quite formal in character and design the accustomed center walk or 'Grand Allee' that led to the focal point of the walk, which was usually at the rear of the garden, will be the general theme of the plan." (Wright 1976).

The initial plan called for the central walk to be constructed on axis with the house. The main garden area was to extend the length of the property, while the width only extended from the end of the east wing to the end of the west wing. The remaining area along the eastern side of the garden proposed to be segmented into several smaller informal gardens. Shortly after the completion of the first design, Brigham was informed that it was archaeologically determined, through topographical analysis, the central walkway was on axis with the kitchen or east hyphen and not with the center of the house. Brigham designed a new plan according to the archaeological findings. The second plan, completed in 1969, carried the names of both Laurance Brigham and Contract Archaeology, showing that the plan was a joint decision between architect and archaeologist (Wright 1973). The plan called for the construction of a terraced garden in the south portion of the property to be partially conjectural. As for the north portion of the garden, the abundance of historical and archaeological information available suggested Paca once had a wilderness style garden in the area closest to King George Street.

The foundation of Carvel Hall Hotel occupied roughly 7/8 of the top two terraces. Because of the hotel's intrusion into the historic soil levels, archaeological evidence regarding the area's original design was lacking. Historical research also did not provide many clues as to how Paca organized the upper garden. The 1884 Frank Mayer sketch and a photograph taken prior to the construction of Carvel Hall show the southern most portion of the garden. Both provide evidence that a terrace existed directly behind the house. The discovery of several sections of sloping walls also indicated the locations of the two additional terraces. In addition, the Mayer Sketch depicts a central pathway originating behind the kitchen and running down the middle of the garden property, a central path that was verified by the archaeological investigation.

As one can observe today, Laurance Brigham took the historical and archaeological information regarding the upper garden to heart. The central path was aligned with the rear of the kitchen and extended down the three terraces splitting the garden into two equal halves. Aside from this, the remaining surface aspects of the upper garden are conjectural.

The parterres designed by Laurance Brigham for the terraces occupying the upper garden are conjectural (Wright 1973). Brigham's decision to include parterres was based on their being typical for the period. Both the archaeology conducted in the garden as well as the historical documentation fail to suggest that Paca once had parterres on either side of the central walk. In addition both the 1884 Mayer drawing and the 19th century photograph show the terrace to be bare.

Although archaeology played a role in the restoration of portions of the upper garden, it was most significant during restoration of the area below the third fall. The reconstruction of the lower garden was based almost entirely on the information gathered during the Bruce Powell and Glenn Little excavations. Aside from the archaeological evidence, the only other document that provides any indication of the original design of Paca's lower garden is the Peale portrait. Looking at the Charles Wilson Peale portrait of William Paca, one can see a two-story summerhouse and a one-story brick structure in the background. Closer examination of the painting also reveals a Chippendale bridge spanning a pond. While they are clearly visible in the painting, Laurance Brigham and the Garden Committee were not entirely certain of their actual location in the garden area aside from their being adjacent to the north garden wall.

The archaeological work conducted in the lower third of the garden found much of the original Paca landscape to be intact. Glenn Little's excavation of the garden in 1967 provided Laurance Brigham and Orin Bullock with the exact location of many of the original garden features: the springhouse, the summerhouse, the bathhouse, the pond, as well as numerous artificial drains and streams.

In order to restore the original surface grade of the lower garden, Laurance Brigham used the wall foundations discovered by Powell and Little as a guide. At the base of the third fall, the east and west garden walls appeared to level out and extend north for about 80 feet at which point the grade of the walls sloped up. Using the archaeological information, Brigham designed the lower garden to include a fourth fall and terrace adjacent to the north wall. The ground between the third and fourth fall was brought down to the 18th century surface level and a fish-shaped pond was constructed according to the contours found during Glenn Little's excavations in 1967-68.

At the base of the third fall, the artificial brick stream was restored based on the information provided by Contract Archaeology. Brigham ran into some difficulties when trying to make the brick stream functional. At some point in the 19th century, the water from a spring located behind the west wall arch was diverted through underground culverts into the Annapolis drain system. In order to restore the flow of water back through the garden, pipes were attached from the culverts through the restored arch.

Following the restoration of the garden surfaces, Orin Bullock began reconstruction of the three garden outbuildings. During Glenn Little's excavations, the foundations of both the springhouse and bathhouse were unearthed. In 1975, Kenneth and Ronald Orr's archaeological investigation revealed the possible location of the garden’s summerhouse as well as provided additional evidence regarding the interior design of the springhouse.

Bullock's design of the restored springhouse and bathhouse is based on the archaeological remains of the original structures as well as the portrait by Charles Wilson Peale. The dimensions of both restored structures measure 9 feet square and were constructed using materials similar to those found during the excavations. In order to preserve the original foundations of both buildings, concrete bases were built around the corners of the historic walls. The new structures were then built upon these bases, leaving the archaeological remains untouched and preserved (Eareckson 1977). Bullock based the interior design of the restored springhouse on the information gathered during the Orr excavations. Bullock's decision to make the structures one story in height with a pyramidal style roof was based on the evidence of a similar structure in the Charles Wilson Peale painting.

The final outbuilding to be restored at the garden was the pavilion, or summerhouse. Not until the conclusion of the Orr excavations in 1975 was Bullock or the Garden Committee convinced of the structure's original location. During both the Powell and Little excavations, a feature was unearthed directly in line with the central walkway on top of the fourth terrace. In 1975 the same feature was unearthed once again and examined. Bullock determined that it was a remnant of the original summerhouse.

Little of the original foundation of the structure remained through to the 20th century. As a result, Bullock based his design of the summerhouse on the Peale portrait. The building was restored as a two-story structure with an octagonal roof. The restored structure also included a statue of the god Mercury as to correspond with the Peale painting. The placement of Mercury was further supported by 18th century literature. Batty Langley suggests in his book, New Principles in Gardening (1728):

  • "For private cabinets in a Wilderness or Grove: Harpocrates God, and Agerona Goddess of Silence, Mercury God of Eloquence."

In his book, Langley provides a variety of suggestions on how gentlemen of the time should decorate their garden. Langley offers suggestions for thirteen types of gardens with each style given specific ornamentation. Mercury is the only suggestion for wilderness-style gardens.

The restored William Paca Garden was made complete with the addition of garden decorations and vegetation. A Chippendale style bridge was constructed across the fish-shaped pond. It was placed in accordance with the cobble foundations found during Little's archaeological investigations of the area. The architectural style of the bridge was based directly on the evidence from the Peale portrait and from the stair rails in the Paca House.

The placement and types of plants used in the garden were purely conjectural on the part of Laurance Brigham. There was no archaeological evidence that could determine how Paca planted his garden. As a result, Brigham turned to designs typical to the 18th century. Langley (1728) states:

  • "That such walks whos views cannot be extended, terminate in Woods, Forefts, misshapen Rocks, strange Precipices, Mountains, old Ruins, grand Buildings, etc"

The problem Brigham faced was that in Paca's day the view would have overlooked the Severn River. However, today the view is of the Naval Academy. To correct this, Brigham decided to plant out the view of the academy with trees and shrubs. In doing so he used Langley's gardening principle of making the summerhouse and pond the terminating view. Furthermore, this made the summerhouse the focal point of the garden much as it was during Paca's day. While Brigham felt his design would not have the same depth as Paca's original view, he believed the feeling of distance would be maintained in the way the trees were planted at the rear of the garden (Wright 1976).


The restoration of the William Paca Garden was a combined effort between restoration architects and archaeology. Using information archaeologists discovered about the historic garden, preservationists Laurance Brigham and Orin Bullock were able to reconstruct a lost landscape. For Brigham, the restored views he created were to him his most important contribution. A scholar of period gardening, Brigham was very much aware of the importance of views in 18th century gardens. The various gardening dictionaries of the period like Langley, Miller, and Leblond suggest gardens be places where the views of the participants are controlled by the landscape. This was accomplished with the creation of focal points. In the William Paca Garden the summerhouse in Paca's time and in the present serve this purpose. As Brigham described to St. Clair Wright in 1976:

"You ask me how the pond and terraces will affect the design, I can only say that the Grand Allee will lead directly to the focal points which will be the lake, and of course, the Pavilion, and these two items will be the most important features of the whole design, not to mention that these features in one garden of the Colonial period were not only different, but completely unique."

Anne Yentsch's 1982 Excavation of the William Paca Garden

In January 1982, preparations began for additional renovations of the springhouse's interior. Russell Wright projected the renovations to include a complete restoration of the interior to its 18th century appearance. The project included reopening the north drain at the east interior wall, repairs and renovations of the basin area, and repairs to the 18th century floor (Yentsch 1982). Wright presumed that during Paca's time a shallow box would have existed in the basin serving as a ledge for the storage of dairy vessels.

In order to determine if any materials from the 18th century still remained, Yentsch proposed the excavation focus on the collecting basin area. From there she expected to cut through the surface layers to be sure no earlier strata remained beneath. Prior to the March 1982 excavation, the springhouse had flooded. Russell Wright and workmen from Brown Engineering attempted to resolve the water problem. By the time excavations began the interior of the springhouse consisted of a level of mud covering the 18th century floor of the structure.

The 1982 excavation of the Springhouse interior began with the removal of a mud layer from the floor's surface. Yentsch also removed several large fieldstones that were no longer in place from the interior. Soon after excavation began, Yentsch came to realize the process was ineffective. A constant stream of water continued to pour into the springhouse from the north wall. As Yentsch's team attempted to remove mud from the basin area, the water quickly forced new deposits into the area making further excavation impossible. The mud contained a small number of 19th century artifacts: a painted tin handle, a red transfer-print rim fragment, a piece of thick white English porcelain, and pieces of thick and thin glass (Yentsch 1982). Organic fragments were also present in the mud deposit: a bone, a piece of wood, as well as numerous oyster shells. While the basin dates to the 18th century, the presence of 19th century artifacts within the feature is not surprising (Yentsch 1982). Prior to the construction of the 19th century collecting basin (discovered during the 1968 Little excavation), it would be typical for the owner to fill in the older basin. The artifacts discovered would have been included in the fill.

Using a metal rod, Yentsch continued to probe below the mud level to identify the full extent of the springhouse's 18th century floor. It quickly became apparent that the basin area’s brick floor was more extensive than Little's map suggested (Yentsch 1982). Yentsch's team discovered the solid brick floor was also located in the northwest corner of the springhouse near the west drain. This discovery is interesting due to the fact that Little's excavation of the structure in 1968 found that the floor in that area was not made of brick.

Following Yentsch's probing of the northwest corner, she turned back to her examination of the basin area. Probing of the basin provided additional information not shown in the Glenn Little drawings of the '68 springhouse excavation. First, Little found that the 18th century collecting basin extended away from the north interior wall southward. In addition Little identified the basin as remaining closer to the center of the springhouse with the basin's west side located away from the west interior wall of the springhouse. Yentsch found that Little’s dimensions for the collecting basin were inaccurate. She discovered that the west side of the basin extended all the way to the west interior wall. Also the floor of the collecting basin was not flat, as previously suspected. It was found that the basin's floor sloped upward toward the north drain located in the east side of the basin. Further probing also revealed that the basin floor closest to the springhouse's north interior wall was much deeper that the rest of the basin floor, allowing water to rapidly drain into the basin from the natural spring (Yentsch 1982). As a result of these discoveries, Yentsch concluded that while the Little drawings are helpful, for the most part they are incomplete and inaccurate.

The goal of the excavation conducted by Yentsch in 1982 was to determine whether any additional features existed within the springhouse collecting basin excavated by Little (1967-68) and the Orr's (1975). Because of to rising water levels and high mud content within the springhouse, Yentsch was unable to conduct a thorough excavation. Although Yentsch was unable to locate any new features probing the basin area revealed some information regarding the dimensions of the structure.

Following the conclusion of her excavation, Yentsch made several recommendations to Historic Annapolis suggesting detailed profiles of the springhouse be created prior to any restoration efforts. Once 18th the century surface was thoroughly explored and detailed profiles of the area created, Yentsch believed an accurate restoration of the springhouse interior could be accomplished.

Laura Galke's 1990 Excavation of the William Paca Garden

During the summer of 1990, Historic Annapolis Foundation conducted repairs of the artificial brick stream located directly below the third fall of the William Paca Garden. These repairs provided the opportunity for archaeological investigations to be conducted in the surrounding area. During July of that year, Archaeology in Annapolis was allowed to conduct investigations to enhance the previous archaeological work that had taken place at the garden from 1966-1975 (Galke 1990). From July 9-14 excavations were conducted under the supervision of Laura Galke, Curator of Archaeology at Historic Annapolis Foundation. The project crew consisted of members of the University of Maryland's summer field school.

The first goal of the excavation was to determine whether any intact 18th century surfaces had survived since earlier excavations. Bruce Powell and Glenn Little found evidence of both the 18th century surface and garden structures during the previous excavations in the area. Unlike the previous excavations, Galke did not expect to discover any evidence of additional 18th century structures however, she anticipated that evidence of other garden activity might still be present such as planting holes and shovel divots. Three excavation units were placed within the lower terrace of the garden to explore this possibility (Galke 1990).

The second goal of the project was to form a comprehensive interpretation of the archaeology of the Paca Garden in the area around the third fall and terrace. In order to accomplish this goal, Galke intended to compare Glenn Little's 1968 profile maps with her own findings. Because of the lack of field notes about Little's year-long excavation of the garden, Galke felt such a comparison was extremely important to the project (Galke 1990). In order to accomplish this goal, Galke placed three excavation units in proximity to where Little had placed three of his trenches. Unit one was placed close to Little's trench 54 unit two near Little trench 29 and unit three near Little trench 34. If Galke were to discover at least one of the former archaeological trenches, an accurate physical relationship would be created between the current and previous excavations. If one of Little's original trenches was not discovered, Galke could at least compare her excavated stratigraphy with the stratigraphy documented by Glenn Little in 1968.

Laura Galke's excavation of the William Paca Garden in 1990 provided valuable information regarding both the post-Paca use of the garden as well as the condition of the historical landscape following its restoration in the 1970s. Galke concluded that the excavation of the area to the south and east of the artificial brick stream contained no significant intact 18th or 19th century layers (Galke 1990). As a result of the garden restoration project, twentieth century fill now rests directly on top of sterile subsoil. To the west and north of the artificial canal, the investigation showed that the stratigraphy remains intact. Excavations in this area revealed 20th century fill episodes, the late 19th century fill episode, and finally, some evidence of an 18th century layer (Galke 1990). The excavations also provided evidence of numerous planting features found within the 19th century level. This indicates that the garden was still active during the 19th century. Galke concludes her report by stating that the excavations she carried out in 1990 suggest that much of the historic garden surface has been to a great extent destroyed by fill activity in the 19th and 20th centuries. However, further excavation to the north and west of the artificial stream may provide additional information regarding the 18th century topography of the garden.


Today the William Paca Garden has emerged from its past. Although once thought to be one of the grandest gardens in all of 18th century Annapolis, neglect and progress wiped the landscape from history. Historic Annapolis Foundation, recognizing the need to save the William Paca Garden, turned to the only resource capable of determining its original design, archaeology. Much of what is known of the William Paca Garden today is based on the excavations conducted from 1966 to 1975.

The archaeology conducted by Bruce Powell, Glenn Little, Kenneth and Ronald Orr, Anne Yentsch and Laura Galke revealed a landscape previously unknown to contemporary Annapolis. Prior to the work they did, little was known about Paca's garden landscape save a small number of historical documents alluding to its existence. The 1966 Powell excavations provided evidence of the brick wall surrounding the garden. Following Powell, Glenn Little was able to determine how the garden landscape was designed during Paca's time. From 1967 to 1968 Little found evidence of the original grade as well as a number of structures and features that Paca had constructed on the property such as the springhouse, pond, brick stream, and underground drainage.

Additional excavations conducted by the Orrs in 1975 revealed the existence of a summerhouse located in the rear of the garden as well as the interior design of the property's springhouse. Anne Yentsch and Laura Galke's excavations in 1983 and 1990, respectively, aided in corroborating the previous excavations as well as supplied additional archaeological information regarding Paca's historic garden.

Using the information provided by the archaeologists in conjunction with a variety of 18th century gardening dictionaries, historical portraits, photographs, and archival records, Laurance Brigham and Orin Bullock restored the garden to the landscape Paca originally built two centuries before. The carefully executed restoration of the William Paca Garden is of great historical and cultural importance to the City of Annapolis. Although several historic gardens remain in Annapolis to this day, the William Paca Garden is the only landscape resembling its original design. As a result, the garden serves as an important example of the city's past to all who view it.

William Paca

Born on October 31, 1740, in Abingdon, Province of Maryland, British America, [1] Paca entered school at the Philadelphia Academy and Charity School in 1752, and went on to attend the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania), graduating in 1759 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. [2] He was also to receive a Master of Arts degree from the same institution in 1762, though this required no further study, only that Paca request it and be in good standing. [3] He also attended the Inner Temple in London, England and read law in 1761, [1] with Stephen Bordley and was admitted to the bar that year. [2] Paca entered private practice in Annapolis, Province of Maryland, starting in 1763. [2]

Paca was a member of the lower house of the Maryland Proprietary Assembly from 1767 to 1774. [1] He was a delegate to the First Continental Congress and the Second Continental Congress from Maryland from 1774 to 1779. [1] He was a delegate to the Maryland State Convention of 1788, to vote whether Maryland should ratify the proposed Constitution of the United States. [4] He was a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776. [1] He was a member of the Maryland Senate from 1776 to 1777, and from 1778 to 1780. [1] He was a Judge of the Maryland General Court in 1778. [1] He was a Judge of the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture from 1780 to 1782. [5] He was Governor of Maryland from 1782 to 1785. [1] He was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates in 1786. [1] He was influential in establishing Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland in 1786. [6] He was a delegate to the Maryland convention in 1788 which ratified the United States Constitution. [6]

Association with Samuel Chase Edit

Among the other young lawyers in Annapolis at the time was Samuel Chase, who became a close friend and political colleague of Paca. [2] Paca and Chase led local opposition to the British Stamp Act of 1765 and established the Anne Arundel County chapter of the Sons of Liberty. [2]

Paca received a recess appointment from President George Washington on December 22, 1789, to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, to a new seat authorized by 1 Stat. 73. [1] He was nominated to the same position by President Washington on February 8, 1790. [1] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 10, 1790, and received his commission the same day. [1] His service terminated on October 13, 1799, due to his death at his estate of Wye River, in Queen Anne's County, Maryland [1] and was interred in a family cemetery on the estate. [6] [Note 1]

Notable case Edit

Paca's career on the federal bench had a significant impact on the admiralty jurisdiction of the Federal courts and what was to become the principal business of the Supreme Court over the subsequent four decades. As the first Federal judge for the District Court of Maryland he rendered an opinion on the case of Betsey that had far reaching consequences when it was overturned by the Supreme Court. In that case, Paca argued on solid precedents of international and British law that the District Court did not have jurisdiction over the awarding of prizes brought into American ports by foreign privateers. The Supreme Court asserted otherwise in seriatim opinions and established an exclusive jurisdiction over prize cases vested in the Federal District Courts that took that privilege away from what had been the responsibility of foreign consulates. Paca's opinion was the first District Court opinion to be published, and although ultimately reversed, it provides insight into the extensive legal training of a signer of the Declaration of Independence and an author/compiler of several provisions of what became the Bill of Rights. [7]

Paca was the child of John Paca (c. 1712 – 1785), a wealthy planter in the area of Italian heritage, and his wife Elizabeth Smith (?-c. 1766). [2] He was the second son of the family, after his elder brother Aquila, and had five sisters. [3] He courted Mary Chew, [8] the daughter of a prominent Maryland planter, and they were married on May 26, 1763. They had three children, though only their son John Philemon survived into adulthood. [3]

Paca was admitted as an honorary member of The Society of the Cincinnati in the state of Maryland in 1783. [9] [10] "The resolution conferring the honor, adopted November 22, 1783, reads in part: . In consideration of the abilities, merit, patriotism of His Excellency, Governor Paca, this society direct that Secretary-General Williams wait on His Excellency and inform him that this society do themselves the honor to consider him as an honorary member." [11] He later served as the vice president of the Maryland Society from 1784-1787. [12] Unlike hereditary members, honorary members are not eligible to be represented by a living descendant. [13]

His Annapolis home, the Paca House and Garden, was added to the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971. [14] The William Paca Club in New Providence, New Jersey is named in his honor. The Club cites the fact that Paca was the only Italian-American to sign the Declaration of Independence as the reason for bestowing him this honor. [15] Paca-Carroll House at St. John's College is named for Carroll and his fellow signer of the Declaration of Independence, William Paca. [16]

According to Stanley South, "[t]he rumor that the name was Italian came from a remark made in 1911 by James Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore, who commented that he thought a relationship existed between Paca and the Italian family Pecci". [25] In a July 18, 1937, letter to the New York Times, a self-described descendant of Paca claimed:

The ancestors of William Paca were of Italian and English origin. The name is said to have originally been spelled Pacci [sic].

However, in an interview with Giovanni Schiavo, the letter writer apparently attributed the suggestion that the name was Pecci to Cardinal Gibbons. [26] Schiavo also reported that Paca mentioned Pope Leo XIII (1879–1903), whose surname was Pecci, during the interview. [26] Stiverson and Jacobsen reported that spellings of the surname of William Paca's immigrant ancestor Robert include Peaker, Pecker, Peaca, Peca, and Paka. [27] Neither "Pecci" nor "Pacci" (nor "Pacca") are attested, but that could be attributed to the fact that the Italian spelling of the name would have simply been difficult or unfamiliar to the English-speaking clerks of the time.

If the Paca family did have Italian origins, they were distant. William Paca's father John Paca (1712 - 1785) was born in Maryland, as was his grandfather Aquila Paca (c.1675 - 1721). His great-grandfather Robert Paca was born in England in 1632, arrived in Maryland by 1651 and may also have gone by the surname "Peaker." [28] [29]


The tour begins on the uppermost terrace, which was designed to serve as a platform for entertaining and for viewing the garden. It is the first glimpse a visitor has of the garden.

The next two levels are laid out in parterres. The Rose Parterre (on the left) features many heirloom roses including alba roses, which were being grown as far back as the Middle Ages. There is also a broad assortment of companion annuals and perennials. During my afternoon visit, the flesh pink rose ‘Maiden’s Blush’, purple allium, verbena bonariensis, perennial foxglove and tropical-looking yellow canna lilies were all blooming.

Close-up of purple verbena bonariensis

The Flower Parterre, which lies directly opposite from the Rose Parterre, was designed to provide three seasons of colorful flowers. At the time of my visit, pink and apricot daylilies, soft pink echinacea and purple liatris were all in bloom. Spiky blue veronica, golden lantana and lavender-pink Stokes’ asters rounded out the mix.

The Kitchen Garden features a colonial-style shed and trellises and latticework crafted from branches and string. I observed lush crops of salad greens, snap peas and squash growing in raised beds, a tiny shelf stacked with herbs planted in terra cotta pots and many heirloom varieties of apples, pears, plums, cherries and figs trained as espaliers. (Products made from the fruits, herbs and vegetables grown in the garden are sold in the gift shop.)

On the second terrace, the Holly and Boxwood Parterres provide year-round interest with their carefully maintained geometric designs.

The Summerhouse is the focal point of the garden. It lies in the wilderness area, which consists of a series of meandering paths through beds of mixed plantings. Reminiscent of the ‘picturesque’ style of gardening that was popular in Colonial America during Paca’s time, the miniature, thumb-shaped building is reached by crossing a Chinese-style latticework bridge that spans a fish-shaped pond.

The upper floor of the two-story building served as a viewing point for the garden during the summer while providing the Paca family with cool garden breezes from the Chesapeake Bay.

Tail-end (literally) of the fish-shaped pond


Paca was an innovator when it came to designing ways to channel the natural runoff across his property. He built a system of drains that diverted water into pleasing garden elements. At the lowest level of his garden, he constructed a brick canal to direct water into a spring house. It is a key architectural element in the lower terrace of the garden.

Today, the natural spring, which is still active in the spring house, feeds the pond. In Paca’s day, the water was also repurposed for household use.

One of Paca’s brick canals used to drain water from the garden

The State of Maryland and Historic Annapolis bought the Paca mansion in 1965 to save it from demolition. They spent the following decade restoring the house and garden. In 1971, the site was recognized as a National Historic Landmark. For more on the house and gardens, click here for the website.

The property hosts the annual William Paca Garden Plant Sale on Mother’s Day weekend every year.

Watch the video: Tour Annapolis: William Paca House (January 2022).