Historic Structures

Whitehall House, Annapolis Maryland

Date added: July 20, 2018 Categories: Maryland House Georgian

Constructed in 1765 for Horatio Sharpe, Governor of Maryland, Whitehall is one of America's foremost Georgian structures. Hugh Morrison called it "one of the most interesting and important houses of the eighteenth century. Overlooking the Chesapeake and enhanced on the land side by a series of ha-ha's, Whitehall has a giant two story pedimented entrance portico supported by four fluted columns with Corinthian capitals.

When Sharpe sailed to England in 1773 and never returned, the property passed to his secretary, John Ridout. Ridout married Mary Ogle, daughter of Governor Samuel Ogle. She was the woman for whom Sharpe was said to have built Whitehall, but never married. Ridout descendants farmed the land until 1895 when Mrs. John P. Story of Washington, D.C., purchased Whitehal1 with sixty acres. Francis P. Garvan bought Whitehall in 1929 and intended to offer it as a summer White House for the President. In 1946 Mr. and Mrs. Charles Scarlett purchased Whitehall; they spectacularly restored the house and landscape.

Horatio Sharpe was born near Hull in Yorkshire in 1718, the youngest of a family of nine boys. In 1745 he was commissioned captain in the marines and shortly afterward lieutenant-colonel of foot in the West Indies. It was this experience in military and colonial affairs that enabled his brother William, as guardian to the young proletary, Frederick Calvert, to obtain for him the governorship of the province of Maryland. The new Lieutenant- Governor arrived in Annapolis on August 10, 1753, on the Molly, and settled down in this elegant little capital city, described as the richest and most luxurious upon the Continent, to a task much to his liking for which he seemed extremely well fitted.

By the spring of 1754, the French had invaded the Ohio River in large force, having engaged the Chippeways, Ottaways and Arundacks to take up the hatchet against His Majesty's subjects settled there. King George despatched a commission to Governor Sharpe "appointing him Commander-in-Chief of all the forces that are, or may be raised to defend the frontiers of Virginia and the neighboring colonies."

With the close of the French and Indian War in 1763, the Governor once again found time for the things that were nearest his heart. Gardening was his great love, he wanted the privacy and freedom of the extensive lawns, walks and parks he had known at home at England. The old glebe plantation, Whitehall, almost surrounded as it was by water and little more than a half hour from town by boat, suited his purpose admirably. Since this was entailed church property, it would require his influence with the Legislature to have laws passed setting aside the terms of Colonel Greenberry's will. So certain he was that this would be done, he bought the adjacent land in the fall of 1763, almost a year prior to his settlement for Whitehall. In all likelihood plans and materials for his new place had been worked up during the interim, and the house was under way by the fall of 1764.