The Archaeology and Restoration of the William Paca Garden, Annapolis, Maryland: 1966-1990



This report details the excavation and restoration efforts at the William Paca Garden in Annapolis, Maryland. Located at 186 Prince George Street, the William Paca House stands in the center of the Historical District of the City of Annapolis. Directly behind the restored mansion sits a large 2-acre 18th century pleasure garden, a garden that up until 40 years ago was lost to history. William Paca, signer of the Declaration of Independence and former governor of Maryland built his Annapolis house and garden in the early 1760s. Paca owned the property until 1780. Through the remainder of the 18th and all of the 19th centuries, the house and garden had a succession of private owners (Historic Annapolis Foundation 2002). While the house had been maintained over the years, Paca’s garden fell into disrepair. The historic garden met its final end in 1901 when the property was sold and a hotel was constructed overtop the historic landscape. Using the archaeological data collected by Bruce Powell, Glenn Little, and Kenneth and Ronald Orr, in conjunction with historical records, garden dictionaries, photographs and portraits, Brigham and Bullock directed a scientifically accurate restoration of the two-acre landscape Paca built (Leone 1987). The restored William Paca Garden is unique. The garden built by William Paca in 1765 is the only opportunity in Annapolis to see what an 18th century city garden actually looked like (Leone 1987). In 1975, Kenneth and Ronald Orr conducted additional archaeological testing of the lower garden in and around the vicinity of the fourth garden fall and terrace. The work they did provided Historic Annapolis with the information needed to determine the location of the garden pavilion as well as the interior design of the garden springhouse. Eight years later Ann Yentsch conducted additional testing of the springhouse interior. The project sought to determine whether any additional 18th century materials could be located. The final excavation of the William Paca Garden began in 1990. Laura Galke, Historic Annapolis Curator of Archaeology, performed additional testing around the artificial brick-lined stream bed located below the third garden fall. The excavations by conducted by Kenneth and Ronald Orr, Ann Yentsch and Laura Galke were comparatively smaller in scale to that of Bruce Powell and Glenn Little, however the information they provided is just as valuable to understanding William Paca’s historic garden. Also, included in the entry are the catalogs from the work done by Kenneth and Ronald Orr in 1975 and Laura Galke in the 1990s. Barbara Paca, a descendant of William Paca, made the basic conditions map of the Garden in 1983 based on Glenn Little's excavations.