The Dome and Lightning Rod
The First Dome: 1769 - 1774
Just as the Articles of Confederation did not effectively govern the country, the first dome of the State House at
Annapolis did not survive more than a decade of Maryland weather. In 1769, the General Assembly of Maryland passed an act to erect a new state house, securely covered with slate tile or lead. The architect was Joseph Horatio Anderson, and the undertaker or builder of the project was Charles Wallace. According to William Eddis in 1773, the work was carried on with great dispatch and when completed would "be equal to any public edifice on the American continent."
The exact date of the completion of the first dome or cupola is not known but evidence suggests that it was completed by the year 1774. In a 1773 Act of Assembly, Charles Wallace was instructed to fix an iron rod pointed with silver or gold at least six feet above the cupola. The General Assembly also recommended that the roof be covered with copper because the slate originally specified would require frequent repairs and cause other inconveniences. According to Charles E. Peterson's "Notes on Copper Roofing in America to 1802", it was more than likely that local copper was put on the roof to advertise the new industry of Maryland.