There’s still some work to be done, but we are approaching our final visits for Francis Scott Key. By way of reviewing, we have visited Frederick, Georgetown, Alexandria, Bladensburg, Ft. McHenry and Baltimore. Still to go are his two homes in the District, his childhood home Terra Rubra, and some follow up visits.
Note: The two main sources for this write-up is Edward Delaplaine’s "Francis Scott Key: Life and Times" (1937) and "Spangled Banner" by Victor Weybright (1935). I’d also like to thank Glenn Gibson, publisher of Annapolis Experience Blog.
In the coming months, when the bicentennial banners are unfurled for the commemorations of the "War of 1812," Baltimore, Georgetown, Frederick and parts in between will feel the pride for the author of our national anthem.
And let’s not forget Annapolis, whose citizens will feel plenty of Key pride too. It was in Maryland’s capital where Key arrived a ten-year old lad, and left ten years later an educated and purposeful, young man. Cupid’s arrow found Key’s heart in the state’s oldest city, and even before that, the family visited Annapolis whenever John Ross Key, Key’s father and a judge, presided over cases in the State House.
In 1789, Key’s parents sent their son from the farmlands of Terra Rubra to St. John’s College. Founded in 1696, and chartered in 1784, the school is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the United States.
Key’s arrangements were familial. He stayed with his great-aunt and uncle, Dr. and Mrs. Upton Scott on Shipwright Street. Scott had a distinguished career as a Maryland physician and was a prominent citizen.
Key progressed through each level and studied the classics. In 1791, he got a great civics lesson when George Washington visited the campus on March 25 as part of his tour of the South.
Like all students at St John’s, Key must have had fond memories of drawing inspiration from the ancient tulip poplar tree on the eastern portion of the campus. Through the centuries, “St. John’s Liberty Tree” was a gathering place for citizens, soldiers and students, who stood under its shade and pondered their destinies. One of the more famous meetings took place when Samuel Chase, future signer of the Declaration of Independence and co-founder of the Annapolis chapter of the Sons of Liberty, met with other colonial patriots in 1765.
Unfortunately, Hurricane Hugo had no sense of history when its winds whipped the Mid-Atlantic in September 1999. The natural landmark, already weakened, was damaged and had to be taken down. Eight years and much mourning later, the Class of 2007 planted a new 25- foot tall tulip poplar.
Annapolis is also where Key met two people he would hold dearest to his heart. After graduating, he met and befriended Roger Brooke Taney who would go on to become fifth Chief Justice of the United States and would marry Key’s sister Anne in 1807. They argued cases together and remained close lifelong friends.
Just a short walk from the edge of the campus lies a three-story Georgian house. One of the most impressive homes in Annapolis, the Chase-Lloyd House at 22 Maryland Avenue is where Key’s heart was smitten by a beautiful young lady named Mary Tayloe Lloyd. The two married in 1802 and would bring 11 children into the world.
In July 1796, Key graduated with honors and was selected as the class valedictorian. After graduating, he spent a couple of years under the tutelage of his uncle, Philip Barton Key. A young learning lawyer could not do better. With the General Court in Annapolis, the keenest legal arguments were heard there. Of this relationship, Weybright wrote, “More than anyone else he influenced Francis Scott Key’s choice of a career and dominated his education.”
The following are the Key sites in Annapolis.
St. John’s campus:
Cannon with commemorative marker
Mellon Hall (Key Auditorium, Key Lobby)
Mellon Hall was originally called the Francis Scott Key Auditorium and Lobby. Pioneer Los Angeles architect Richard Neutra and his partner Robert C. Alexander designed the building in the flat-roofed modern style. According to the National Park Service nominating form, Mellon Hall is considered to be his best collegiate design.
Just east of St. John’s is the Chase-Lloyd House where Key met Mary and they married. Its weekly hours are 2 to 4 pm. It is said this is the house novelist Winston Churchill had in mind when he wrote one particular scene in Richard Carvel.
100 State House
Also a short walk away. Key watched his uncle Philip in action.
About a fifteen minute walk away. As the Library of Congress notes:
The Georgian house, built by an Irish physician, Dr. Upton Scott, for his bride, is noted for its rich interior work by William Buckland, a well-known architect and master builder.
Glenn of Experience Annapolis observes:
While some Annapolis Historians will say that there are twelve houses of note throughout the history of Annapolis – one of them no longer exists, my feeling is that there should have been thirteen houses of historical note including the Dr. Upton Scott House as seen pictured above.
Places Around When Key Was in Annapolis.
Courtesy of Glenn, here is a list of homes and buildings that were around in Key’s time in Annapolis. As he notes, Each of these buildings were constructed during the very early 1700's to the last quarter of the 18th century. Gibson also put these in order for a walking tour.
2. Thomas Rutland-Peggy Stewart House - 207 Hanover Street
3. Chase-Lloyd House - 22 Maryland Avenue
4. Hammond-Harwood House – 19 Maryland Avenue
5. Old Treasury Building At the Maryland State House - State Circle - STATE HOUSE
6. Judge Brice House - 195 Prince George Street
7. William Paca House - 186 Prince George Street
8. James Brice House - 42 East Street
9. Sands House – 134 Prince George Street
10. Jonas Green House – 124 Charles Street
11. Lloyd-Dulaney House 162 Conduit Street
12. Upton Scott House – 4 Shipwright Street
13. Georgian House Bed & Breakfast - 170 Duke of Gloucester Street - Originally a political meeting house.
14. John Ridout House - 120 Duke of Gloucester Street
15. Ridout Row London Townhouse – 110-114 Duke of Gloucester Street
Photo is the Paca House.