The Archives Room &
State House Visitor Center

The Archives Room marks the end of the 18th Century State House. A brick floor and vaulted ceiling (brick under plaster) were installed in this room in 1858 to provide a fire proof room in which to store state records. This room was restored to its mid-19th century appearance as an archives room in 1983-84 for the celebrations of the 350th anniversary of the founding of the colony of Maryland.

The exhibits in this room are devoted to the early State House, the evolution of the buildings within State Circle, John Shaw, and the building of the dome. There are a number of images relating to the State House, including drawings by Charles Willson Peale and floor plans.

The Dome: This exhibit features a cross-section of the dome showing its construction of cypress beams and assembly with wooden pegs. The work of Joseph Clark, it is the oldest and largest wooden dome in the United States and closely resembles a similar wooden dome in Karlsruhe, Germany. The exhibit also tells the tragic story of Thomas Dance, a plasterer who fell from the interior of the dome to his death in 1793, just before the dome was completed.

John Shaw: This noted Annapolis cabinetmaker was responsible more than anyone else for the appearance of interior and exterior of the State House from the 1770s through the early decades of the 19th century. He cared for the grounds, illuminated the building for special occasions, made furniture, and looked after emergency repairs and routine maintenance. John Shaw made most of the early furniture for the Senate and the House of Delegates and some of these pieces are on display in the State House, in the Archives Room and in the Old Senate Chamber. The exhibits include examples of his furniture as well as invoices for work done for the State House.

The Buildings Within State Circle: This exhibit discusses the two State Houses which were built before the present one and the many changes which have been made to the present one since its completion in 1779. It also describes other buildings on State Circle, including the Old Treasury Building which was built between 1735-36 and is the oldest public building in Annapolis.

Exhibits in the Archives Room

The Dome
John Shaw Flag
Buildings in State Circle
State House & State Circle
Charter of Maryland

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