Report on Archaeological Investigations Conducted at the St. Mary's Site (18AP45), 107 Duke of Gloucester Street, Annapolis, Maryland, 1987-1990


In celebration of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Archaeology in Annapolis was invited to excavate the Carroll House and garden on 107 Duke of Gloucester Street in Annapolis, Maryland. The site, named the St. Mary's Site (18AP45) for the Catholic church on the property, is currently owned by the Redemptorists, a Roman Catholic congregation of priests and brothers who have occupied the site since 1852. Prior to the Redemptorists' tenure, the site was owned by the Carroll family from 1701-1852 and is perhaps best known as the home of Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737-1832), signer of the Declaration of Independence. Excavations at the site were conducted during four consecutive summer seasons from 1987-1990. The investigation focused on three research questions. The first line of inquiry were questions surrounding the dating, architectural configuration, and artifact deposits of the "frame house," a structure adjoining the west wall of the brick Carroll House via a "passage" and later a three story addition. The frame house was partially demolished in the mid-nineteenth century but the construction was thought to pre-date the brick portion of the house. The second research question was spurred by documentary research which indicated that the property might have been the location of Proctor's Tavern, a late 17th-century tavern which served as the meeting place of the Maryland Provincial Assembly. Archaeological testing hoped to determine its location and, if found, investigate Annapolis' early Euro-American occupation. The third research question focused on the landscape of the site as it was shaped by its occupants over the past three hundred years. The research questions included investigating the stratigraphy, geometry, and architectural and planting features of Charles Carroll of Carrollton's terraced garden built during the 1770s, and investigating the changes to the landscape made by the Redemptorists in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. While no structural evidence associated with Proctor’s Tavern was uncovered during limited excavations along Spa Creek, the historic shore of Spa Creek was identified, buried beneath deep fill deposits laid down during construction of the Carroll Garden. Features and deposits associated with this period likely remain intact in a waterlogged environment along the southeastern sea wall at the St. Mary’s Site. Evidence of extensive earth moving by Carroll is present in the garden and was identified during excavation and coring. This strongly suggests that the garden landscape visible at the St. Mary’s Site is the intact Carroll Garden, which survives beneath contemporary and late nineteenth century strata. The extant surviving garden should be considered highly sensitive to ground-disturbing activities, and is also highly significant considering demonstrable associations with the Carroll family. Other garden-related features were also discovered, including planting holes, and a brick pavilion or parapet located along Spa Creek to the south of the site. The Duke of Gloucester Street wall was shown to be associated with the Carroll occupation of the site. Finally, intensive archaeological research was directed at the vicinity of a frame house constructed and occupied by the Carrolls to the east of the existing brick house, which was replaced by the Redemptorists in the nineteenth century with a greenhouse. These superimposed buildings were documented in detail and remain highly significant features at the St. Mary’s Site.