Friday, September 27, 2013

Spotlight on Molly Ridout

As we have mentioned in previous posts, one attendee of the resignation ceremony who will be featured in our exhibit is Mary "Molly" Ridout.

Molly was born in England in 1746, the second daughter of provincial Maryland governor, Samuel Ogle, and his wife, Anne Tasker Ogle. The Ogles were a prominent family, with influence in both England and Maryland throughout the eighteenth century. Molly's brother, Benjamin, later served as governor of Maryland between 1798 and 1801.

Molly's father, Samuel Ogle (c.1694-1752), Maryland State Archives, MSA SC 1545-1074.
Molly's brother, Benjamin Ogle (1749-1809), Maryland State Archives, MSA SC 1545-1071.
At age 18, Molly Ogle married John Ridout. An Oxford graduate, Ridout accompanied Governor Horatio Sharpe to Maryland as his personal secretary. Under Sharpe's patronage, Ridout quickly garnered several political positions including Judge of Probate (1761-1762) and naval officer of the Port of Annapolis (1762-1777). Upon Sharpe's departure from Maryland in 1773, the former governor left the couple his mansion, Whitehall, on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. This property, along with their Annapolis townhouse on Duke of Gloucester street known as Ridout House, played host to several social events attended by Maryland's high society.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Recent Press

A few weeks ago, we were excited to have the C-SPAN Cities Tour feature the Maryland State House in their coverage on Annapolis. The feature covers the importance of the Old Senate Chamber and some of the last video footage of the room before the scaffolding was assembled. The tour of the State House also includes information on the Old House of Delegates chamber, the New Annex, and the grounds. You can view the feature on the State House below.

For more information on Washington's resignation speech, the Maryland Constitution of 1864 debated in the Old House of Delegates Chamber, and historical documents related to the life of Frederick Douglass, please view the C-SPAN feature on the Maryland State Archives.

Friday, September 13, 2013

George Washington in Bronze

Yesterday, we had our kick-off meeting with New York-based Studio EIS who will be designing the bronze statue of George Washington, which will be placed in the spot where he stood to resign his commission on December 23, 1783. Along with Washington, Studio EIS will also be creating a faux-bronze statue of Annapolitan Molly Ridout, who watched the resignation from the visitor's gallery in the chamber.

The creation of a lifelike historic statue requires a precise blend of detailed research and creativity. Studio EIS has a large amount of experience with creating lifelike statues of historical figures, including Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Abraham Lincoln. Their work also appears at Mt. Vernon, Monticello, Montpelier and on the steps of the New York Historical Society. Last April, members of our project team were able to visit their studio to see their remarkable work by their talented artists and to discuss the design and fabrication process.

The National Constitution Center's Signers' Hall features 42 bronze figures, all created by Studio EIS. Image courtesy of Studio EIS.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Construction Begins

Though the blog has been quiet for some time now, work on the Old Senate Chamber has continued behind the scenes. Architectural investigations have concluded and the restoration of this historic space is about to begin! This upcoming work will return the room back to its architectural appearance when Congress convened in the chamber in 1783-1784.

Over the past nine months, architects and scholars have analyzed all extant evidence from the 18th, 19th and 20th century renovations in this space, exposing a tremendous amount of original building materials. This work has included the removal of nearly all of the recognizable architecture from the 1905 and 1940 restorations, including floor, paint and plaster, ceiling, and visitor's gallery. More accurate versions of each of these elements, and many others, will be recreated as part of the restoration.

The niche was covered for its protection during some of the architectural investigations. One of the windows has also been transformed into a construction entrance, 30 January 2013.

 As you can see from the photographs, elaborate scaffolding now covers most of the chamber. This will allow the contractors and specialized tradesmen access to all areas within the room.

Image of the scaffolding now up in the Old Senate Chamber, 5 September 2013.

The Old Senate Chamber is scheduled to reopen to the public in December 2014, the 231st anniversary of George Washington's resignation of his commission.

As construction proceeds, we plan to chronicle the restoration with entries on the history and architecture of the chamber, as well as the people and processes involved in returning this space to its original appearance. Special features will also highlight the new interpretive exhibits that will be unveiled as part of this restoration.

Please stay tuned for more updates!