The Hammond-Harwood House was built for the 25-year-old tobacco planter Matthias Hammond of Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
The young Hammond managed to accrue more and more real estate while still successfully managing his various tobacco plantations. In April of 1773, Matthias Hammond was selected as a member of the vestry of St. Anne’s Parish and in May of the same year he was elected to represent the City of Annapolis as a delegate to the Maryland General Assembly. He decided he wanted a house in town, a showcase for his blooming life as a patriot.
The years 1763 to 1774 have been referred to as the Golden Age of Annapolis because political power acted as a magnet for the wealthy planters who came to town bringing a profound desire for sophisticated society, stylish architecture and a ravenous appetite for imported luxury goods.
The house was to be built on a four-acre site composed of 4 square lots, which Hammond bought in September of 1772 (lots 92 and 105) and March of 1774 (lots 91 and 106). In 1774 Hammond commissioned English architect William Buckland to design the house. He trained as a joiner in London and had worked in Virginia as an architect/joiner/designer since 1755. To his credit were the interiors at George Mason’s home Gunston Hall (1755-1759) in Prince William County, Va., John Tayloe’s Mt. Airy (1761-1763) in Richmond County, Va. and Edward Lloyd IV’s Chase-Lloyd house (1771-1773) in Annapolis. Hammond-Harwood is the only structure with both the interior and exterior designed by Buckland. His beautiful Anglo-Palladian design is significant for its proportion and grace.
Although Buckland died suddenly in December 1774, his apprentice John Randall was able to complete the house. Hammond never lived in the house but he did rent the north wing to Jeremiah Townley Chase in 1779 to use as a law office. In 1811, Chase bought the house for his daughter Frances and her husband Richard Loockerman. The family lived at Hammond-Harwood House until 1925, when the last descendent passed away. The rooms inside contain many paintings, pieces of furniture, and decorative pieces that belonged to the Loockerman family; Frances and Richard, with their 10 children made the Hammond-Harwood House a lively center for Annapolis society.
The house and its contents went up for auction and in 1926, St. John’s College purchased the house, to be used as a decorative arts classroom. Ultimately, it was the Great Depression that forced the college to sell the house. In 1938, the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland began renting the house from the college and later the newly formed Hammond-Harwood House Association purchased the property. The Hammond-Harwood House Association was incorporated on the November 29, 1938, which makes it the first independently incorporated historic house museum in Maryland.