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Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

National Historic Landmark ST. MARYS CITY

Location: St. Marys County.

This city, presently the location of St. Marys College, is the site of the first English settlement in Maryland. When Leonard Calvert, brother of the Lord Proprietor of the colony, sailed into the mouth of the Potomac River and up the St. Marys River in 1634, his two ships dropped anchor near an Indian village whose inhabitants were moving away because of fear of other Indians. The 200 colonists settled in the abandoned Indian village and soon erected a fort. Later, a town evolved and grew along with other newer nearby settlements. In 1676, it was the capital of a bustling colony. In that year, a statehouse was erected for the use of the colonial assembly.

In 1694, however, the capital was moved to Anne Arundel Town, renamed Annapolis the following year, and shortly thereafter St. Marys City lost even its county seat status. As a result, it rapidly declined. No original 17th-century building has survived, though foundations of some of the 60 houses built in the 1600's lay under shallow coverings of dirt. The present reconstruction of the early statehouse, on Middle Street, was inspired by the Maryland Tercentenary Celebration of 1934. It is furnished with copies of period furniture. Nearly all the land of the old central city is privately owned. In 1965, the State was examining the possibility of reconstructing parts of the city.

NHL Designation: 08/04/69

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Last Updated: 22-Mar-2005