May 11, 2015

The Most Beautiful House in Maryland

When I was younger, I sailed around the Annapolis area a lot. There was a house we’d sail by and I was always awestruck by its classic good looks and beautiful situation over-looking the Severn River. Constructed, beginning in the mid-1700’s for the last royal governor of Maryland, Horatio Sharpe, it is a true Georgian house in five parts. It was the first home in America built with a full temple portico.image It has been owned by the same family since the 1940’s and the owner spent years meticulously restoring this private home, which for years was used as the family’s summer home.  Funnily, one of the owner’s sons is the leading expert on jelly-fish stings, no doubt from decades of swimming in the river and Chesapeake Bay just off the banks of this estate. image

Word came earlier this week that Whitehall will be open to the public twice a month, beginning this summer, and I know I am going to be in line to see it, after hearing about it for ages!image

My friend Kit Pollard at the Baltimore Sun wrote a terrific article about the house, here and of course, I am madly jealous she got to see it. I thought I’d share some images with you to pique your interest.

Here’s the house in 1936, with a second-story, which was later removed for not being original to the house. image

Way before there were chromochronography, the owner picked back through the various coats of paint to find the original vivid colours, including this scarlet, which is similar to the family’s surname, Scarlett. This is the entry hall. The woodwork in the house, such as that on the windows, has been attributed to the early American architect, William Buckland, who also worked on a number of contemporary houses in Annapolis, many of which I have visited and one which I house-sat for a summer. image

Here’s another view of the hallway.imageimage

In each of the corners of the hall, there are depictions of the four winds.image

The Chinese Room including wallpapers imported from China.imageimage

The Green Room with its portrait of Governor Sharpe.imageimageimage

The main dining room.image

Hanging staircase to the lower level. image

The master bedroom.image

The family has put Whitehall into a trust and will be working with Historic Annapolis, Inc. to establish a school to teach preservation techniques, and with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to teach about the environment of the Chesapeake Bay. For more information, click here.

A visit to Whitehall is on my to-do list for this summer!

Photos: The Baltimore Sun/Chesapeake Home + Living


  1. Unfortunately, Meg, I did NOT get to see it- not in person, at least! A combination of schedules and the weather meant that I couldn't get there before the photographer! (I wrote this over the winter.) I can tell you, though, that I interviewed three different family members and they were some of the nicest people, with incredible stories. I've also been fascinated by Whitehall since I was a I was completely thrilled to learn so much about the house! Thank you for sharing it!

    1. NOOO! What a bummer. I have met some of the family and they are all lovely people!

  2. Lets plan an outing with Stefan! Would love to tour the house.



  3. Fabulous!!!
    You always have the best posts!!!
    How does one find out the dates that it will be open?

    1. There's a link at the bottom of the post that should help you find out.

  4. what an amazing house! I'd be in - lets go!

  5. The Green Room portrait certainly looks like George Washington. I believe it is misnamed.


  6. The smaller structures at each end of the house are known as dependencies, connected by a "hyphen" to the main house. Can't wait to see the photographs after your tour, Meg. Exciting!

  7. That chinoiserie mirror/clock is beyond BEYOND!!! And are we absolutely sure that the portrait is the Governor? He is the exact spitting image of George Washington.

  8. I will definitely plan to tour this gem during one of the open days! Thank you so much for letting your readers know about this opportunity.

  9. I really wish I could be there to take a tour with you all my friends!!

    The Arts by Karena
    Bunnies by Hunt Slonem

  10. Oh boy, oh boy! Those walls...

  11. That stretch of peninsulas framed by meandering creeks and coves at the mouth of the Severn, hemmed in by Route 50, and bookended by the Naval Acadmey annex and Sandy Point State Park has a surprising number of grand pre-WWII houses. In addition to Colonial-era Whitehall, the Atterburys Maidstone Farm and the Labrots Holly Beach Farm are notable examples, though both date to the early 20th century. I always thought it was interesting that Anne Arundel as a whole is pretty light on fine houses of that period, Gibson Island notwithstanding. Seems like most of the building was concentrated around Baltimore in those days, which makes sense because that's where all the big money was being made at the time.


Thank you for reading and commenting on Pigtown*Design. I read each and every comment and try to reply if I have your e-mail address.