Hammond-Harwood House: 1936, A Year of Transition

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This photograph of Hammond-Harwood House, dated 1936, was included in the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) of that year. The house was for sale by St. John’s College. The college had acquired the house in 1926 after the last of the Loockerman-Harwood family descendants died. With ambitious plans to offer a college focus on decorative arts, St. John’s hired R.T. Halsey, prominent in the museum field and the founder of the Metropolitan Museum’s American Wing. Francis Garvan, a wealthy New York collector, joined the effort as well. Garvan brought with him pieces from his American collection to furnish the rooms of the Hammond-Harwood House and to serve as living examples of the highest forms of American traditional craftsmanship.A combination of financial pressures due to the Depression and political disagreements between the college’s president and Halsey brought the college’s effort to an end in 1934. Garvan left – taking his furniture and paintings to Yale University. The college began efforts to sell the property. In the meantime, a group of Annapolis citizens devoted to preserving the city’s historic character rented office space at the house. The Company for the Restoration of Colonial Annapolis (CRCA) opened the house for tours – as indicated in this photo. The group hired E.H. Pickering to photograph Annapolis landmarks; this image may have been taken by him.  The house and grounds appear to be well-maintained, the stone front steps and iron railing installed previously by St. John’s are in place, and the post and chain fencing neatly outlines the streetscape.Hammond-Harwood House was sold in 1940 to the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland, who had formed the Hammond-Harwood House Association to raise the necessary funds. The Association has been operating the site as a museum since then.

Notes: CRCA disbanded in 1954 and turned over the remainder of the organization’s funds to the fledgling Historic Annapolis.Sources: Annapolis Colonial Restoration: The Secret Project, 1926-1935 by Dr. Charles Webb; Maryland Historical Magazine, Spring/Summer-Fall/Winter 2020.Annapolis, City on the Severn by Jane McWilliams, Johns Hopkins University Press, The Maryland Historical Trust Press, 2011Hammond-Harwood House Cultural Landscape Report, 2021; Mark Wenger, Barbara Goyette

Posted on Apr 8, 2023 in , by Hammond-Harwood House



Hammond-Harwood House

The mission of the Hammond-Harwood House Association is to preserve and to interpret the architecturally significant Hammond-Harwood House Museum and its collection of fine and decorative arts, and to explore the diverse social history associated with its occupants, both free and enslaved, for the purposes of education and appreciation.
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