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

By Jason P. Shellenhamer, M.A.A.


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.

When Carvel Hall Hotel was demolished, Historic Annapolis Foundation raised the money to purchase the historic William Paca House. Following the acquisition of the William Paca House and Garden in 1965, Historic Annapolis, Inc. began drawing up plans for reconstruction of William Paca's 18th century garden. Although the garden property was under the ownership of the State of Maryland, the Maryland Historical Trust turned responsibility for the restoration of the garden over to Historic Annapolis. In 1966, the Garden Committee was formed. From 1966 to 1973, the Garden Committee, headed by St. Clair Wright, was responsible for making all decisions related to the garden reconstruction.

The Garden Committee initially believed an exact reproduction of the original garden design would not be possible. Any documentation of the construction of the garden had been lost, believed to have been destroyed during the fire at his Wye Island home 1879. In addition, construction of Carvel Hall Hotel erased all physical evidence of the historic landscape that may have existed through the 19th century. As a result, the Garden Committee decided the only alternative would be construction of a fanciful garden on the site of William Paca's lost garden(Wright 1966). The plan called for the creation of a garden that would reflect typical landscape styles found in England during William Paca's time period and not Paca's actual garden.

As plans for the garden were in development, Historic Annapolis contracted National Park Service archaeologist, Bruce Powell, to conduct an archaeological investigation of the site. Powell's investigation led to the discovery of several features dating to Paca's period. As St. Clair Wright stated in her report, The Once and Future Garden of William Paca:

Rather than lose these valuable resources of the original form of the 18th century garden, Maryland Historic Trust, with commendable resiliency, decide to pursue the additional archaeological work that would make it possible to restore and reconstruct, when necessary, the original garden instead of creating a fanciful one. (Wright 1976).

Historic Annapolis's new commitment to reconstruct William Paca's historic garden began in 1967. At that time, the Garden Committee contracted with archaeologists and researchers to recover as much information about William Paca's garden as possible, both through historical documentation and archaeologically. Those charged with conducting the garden restoration utilized all available information in order to rebuild Paca's garden as accurately as possible.

The information obtained about the historic garden by archaeologists Bruce Powell (1966) and Glenn Little (1967-68) was surprising. They discovered William Paca's garden had not been destroyed, only hidden over the years. Excavations of the north half of the property by King George Street uncovered a number of historic features including: a pond, canal, bridge, outbuildings, and drainage system all dating to William Paca's time. Bruce Powell and Glenn Little found that the original grade of the landscape was untouched.

Landscape designer Laurance Brigham and architect Orin Bullock conducted the restoration of William Paca's garden in the early 1970s. Drawing on archaeological data and historical documentation regarding the William Paca Garden and other similar period gardens, Brigham and Bullock resurrected a significant aspect of Annapolis history. Major restoration of the William Paca Garden concluded in 1972, however additional archaeological testing of the landscape continued for another twenty years.

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 stream 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.

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 Willia

William Paca and his Annapolis Home

On May 30, 1763, William Paca purchased two adjacent plots of land between Prince George Street and King George Street in Annapolis, Maryland. Over the next two years, Paca designed and oversaw the construction of his home and garden. 

Paca would have had a number of gardening dictionaries available to him in order to plan the design of his adjoining pleasure garden. Philip Miller's Gardening Dictionary (1748), Alexander Le Blond's The Theory in the Practice of Gardening (1722), and Batty Langley's New Principles in Gardening (1728) were all known to be available in Annapolis prior to and during the time Paca constructed his garden. Published in Europe in the early 18th century, these dictionaries provide instruction on how to design a pleasure garden according to the ideals of symmetry and order. Any formal garden in the city or on a manor in the country would have been built using these detailed books (Leone 1987). The books contained descriptions of landscape engineering, buildings, and water control. In early 18th century England, overt geometric garden patterns utilizing terraces and parterres were popular. Closer to Paca's time, naturalistic gardens were becoming more popular. While still employing geometric principles, naturalistic gardens, like their predecessors, were created for the purpose of controlling views toward focal points. Paca may have incorporated both earlier and more modern designs in his formal garden.

Paca lived at his Annapolis home until 1780. In 15 years there Paca became increasingly involved in events that led to the American Revolution. His involvement culminated in 1774 when Paca began to attend the Continental Congress. In 1776, Paca voted for and subsequently signed the Declaration of Independence. Paca later resigned his position as delegate and took a position as a judge of the Admiralty Court, which tried cases involving maritime issues. On July 25,1780, Paca sold his Annapolis home to Thomas Jenings, Attorney General of Maryland.


In 1901, Annapolis Hotel Corporation acquired the William Paca House and Garden. The Paca House was renovated to serve as the new hotel's lobby. Directly behind the house on the site of the historic garden, a 200-room hotel was constructed, completely erasing any evidence of the historic pleasure garden above ground. Named Carvel Hall, the hotel opened in 1906. From 1906 to 1965 Carvel Hall served as Annapolis' most popular residence for members of the Maryland legislature, naval officers, and families visiting the state capital. In 1911, a fire burned through Carvel Hall Hotel. While the fire devastated the 200-room structure, the building was eventually rebuilt and continued to serve Annapolis for another 54 years. In 1965 the hotel and historic Paca House were purchased as part of a plan to use the land to construct a new apartment/office complex, destroying the existing hotel and historic Paca House.

A decade earlier, in 1952, Historic Annapolis Incorporated (H.A.I.) had been established. At that time, Historic Annapolis' mission was to preserve threatened buildings of historical and cultural significance in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. When it was made public that the William Paca House and Carvel Hall were to be razed, Historic Annapolis raised $250,000 and purchased the house but was unable to raise the money to purchase the adjoining 2 acres. Urged by Historic Annapolis Inc., the Maryland General Assembly purchased the remaining land that was once the site of William Paca's historic garden. Shortly after H.A.I. acquired the properties, efforts were undertaken to restore both the house and garden properties to their appearance in William Paca's time.

William Paca's records regarding the construction of the house and garden were not available to restoration architects. In 1879, Paca's Wye Hall home caught fire causing extensive damage to the house as well as the items inside. Because no records could be located at the time of the restoration process, it is presumed that any extant records kept by Paca about the construction of his house and garden were lost in this fire. As a result, restoration architects and landscapers sought information on the house and garden in alternative materials, such as letters, as well as the existing remains on the property. Aside from some minor structural changes to the house's exterior and wings, much of the original house remained intact and in good condition. However, the restoration of the garden was a different matter. While much of the historic garden remained mostly untouched for 120 years after Paca sold the property, construction of Carvel Hall Hotel in 1901 erased any surface evidence of the original landscape.

Archival Information

Years before the construction of Carvel Hall Hotel, two paintings, one in 1772 and another in 1884, were created of the historic garden. Charles Willson Peale, a renowned painter, was hired by William Paca to paint his portrait in 1772. The painting depicts Paca standing along a wall with his Annapolis garden in the background. While Paca is the focus of the portrait, a number of garden features can be identified as well: summerhouse in the center rear of the garden, a one story brick structure with a pyramid roof to the right of the pavilion, a slotted brick wall behind the two structures running along King George Street, and finally a small pond located just in front of the pavilion. The Peale painting identifies several of the garden's outbuildings, but fails to provide any detailed information about the landscape of the garden aside from the pond and pavilion.


American artist Frank B. Mayer, created a second painting of the garden in 1884. The painting depicts the upper garden elevation as well as the rear of the house. In the Mayer sketch one can identify a slotted brick wall along the southwest portion of the garden, identical to the wall depicted in the Peale portrait. In addition, two falls and three terraces are shown extending toward King George Street with a central pathway originating at the upper terrace directly across from the southeast hyphen and bisecting the garden. While the portrait was created in the late 19th century, little modification to the landscape is recorded to have been done between 1765 and 1884 suggesting that many of the features identified in the Mayer sketch may have existed during Paca's ownership of the house and garden.


 Additional information about the garden was also found in a number of documents from the 19th and early 20th centuries:

  • "Our new house is enormously big, four rooms below, three large and two small ones on the second floor besides the staircase, and the finest garden in Annapolis in which there is a spring, a cold bath house well fitted up and a running stream. What more could I wish for?" (Stier 1797)
  • "This garden, perhaps, more than any other spot, indicated the delightful life of Annapolis a century ago.  The springhouse, the expanse of trees and shrubbery, the octagonal two-story summerhouse, that represented 'My lady's bower', the artificial brook, fed by two springs of water, that went rippling along to the bath house that refreshed in the sultry days, and gave delight to the occupants, form a picture tradition loves to dwell upon to this day." (Riley 1887)
  • "- on the ground before mentioned is a spring of flowing water, highly valued, being an original feature of the place, having a right of way through an arch in the boundary wall." (Evening Capital 1905)


The historical documents serve to verify the existence of several outbuildings and features identified in the Mayer and Peale paintings, specifically the summerhouse and bathhouse. In addition, the documents also describe a number of other features not found in the paintings such as the artificial stream and the springhouse. However, the documents, like the paintings, failed to provide enough information to accurately reconstruct the historic landscape. While the paintings and documentation do suggest which buildings and features may have existed in Paca's garden, the overall topography of the area remained a mystery. As a result, in 1966 Historic Annapolis Inc. began the first of a series of archaeological excavations at the William Paca Garden. Over the next nine years, archaeology, aided by the historical documentation, served as Historic Annapolis' primary means of identifying the original landscape of the William Paca Garden.

Bruce Powell's 1966 Excavation of the William Paca Garden

The first series of excavations conducted at the William Paca Garden was carried out during the period of August 15 through August 26, 1966. National Park Service archaeologist Bruce Powell conducted the project. While the William Paca Garden is entrusted to Historic Annapolis Foundation, the site is a part of the National Historic District of Annapolis and a registered National Historic Landmark. As such, the National Park Service of the United States Department of the Interior provided the direction of the excavation. Because of the limited amount of time available to Bruce Powell to complete his research, the decision was made to employ the use of mechanical digging equipment to excavate test trenches covering as much of the garden area as possible.

A grid system was laid out using King George Street as the north-south line. The datum for the grid was set at the northeast corner of the property. In total, five test trenches were laid out in the garden. All test trenches were laid out in reference to the established grid. The first trenches to be laid out were test trenches one and two. Both trenches were laid out along the west side of the garden property in order to test the depth of the foundations of Carvel Hall and to determine whether anything remained of the historic wall along the north property line.

Two additional trenches, test trenches three and four, were placed in a north-south orientation across a grass plot and into the Carvel Hall parking lot located in the eastern third of the garden area (Powell 1966). Finally, the fifth test trench was laid in an east-west orientation. Test trench five began along the east boundary of the property and extended one hundred thirty-two feet towards the William Paca House. According to Bruce Powell (1966), test trench five would have extended the full extent of the garden, but the trenching was cut short possibly due to project time restrictions.

Four structural features were identified during his excavation of the garden. Structures one and two were identified as remnants of the original garden wall. They were found in the southwestern portion of the garden along the west property line. The southwestern portion is documented in Frank B. Mayer's 1884 sketch of the rear of the William Paca House. The section of the brick wall located in the southwestern side of the garden was found in test trenches one and two. In test trench 5, the foundation of another portion of the wall was located along the north property line, or King George Street side of the garden. Powell found a third structure located in test trench five. According to Powell, the feature (structure 2) was of unknown use, measuring 3 feet 9 inches long by 1 foot 10.5 inches wide. The final structure located by the Powell excavations was also found in test trench five. The structure was a line of unbonded brick, two rows wide and one course deep. It was found crossing test trench five in an east-west direction at a depth 7.5 feet below the surface. Because of the depth of the structure, Powell identified it as being associated with the historic Paca period of the garden.

Three of five trenches excavated by Powell provided evidence of the historic garden wall that bordered Paca's garden. The discovery of the wall confirmed the extent of the dimensions along the north and eastern sides of the property. Additionally, analysis of the remains revealed the design and materials used in the construction of the original garden wall.

Aside from the discovery of the walls and garden grade, the excavations failed to produce a substantial amount of artifacts from the 18th century. In addition, the Powell excavations were not able to locate the historic stream, pond, or outbuildings of William Paca's garden. Powell recommended that no further information could be gathered about the garden through archaeology. Historic Annapolis Inc. felt the excavations in fact demonstrated that additional archaeological testing would be an invaluable resource in gaining a greater understanding of the design of the William Paca Garden.

Glenn Little's 1967-68 Excavation of the William Paca Garden

In light of the discoveries made during the Powell excavations in 1966, Historic Annapolis, Inc., decided additional archaeological testing would reveal more information regarding the 18th century design of the garden. While the Powell excavations were able to identify the 18th century surface of the garden, his testing area was too small to make an accurate analysis of the exact topography during William Paca's occupation of the site.

Glenn Little, of Contract Archaeology Inc. (C.A.I.), was hired to conduct a more thorough excavation of the garden property. By the time Glenn Little was hired in 1967, the demolition of Carvel Hall had been completed allowing excavations to be conducted over the entire surface of the garden, an opportunity unavailable to Bruce Powell.

Glenn Little's excavations were conducted in two field seasons over a one-year period from 1967 to 1968. The first phase of Little's excavations began on March 30, 1967 and continued until December 1, 1967. The second phase of testing picked up the following year on August 1st concluded by the end of September 1968.


The 1967 Excavations

Little began excavating the William Paca Garden on March 30, 1967. Using information from the Bruce Powell excavation a year earlier, Little placed a series of 19 trenches along the west, north, and eastern sides of the garden. The core drillings were also done through the rest of the garden area in order to reveal any information related to the 18th - century surface of the garden. The core drillings and trench excavations revealed that an enormous amount of fill and rubble covered much of the historic garden surface. The testing also showed, aside from some isolated areas along the east and west sides of the garden, very little of the northern half of the historic garden surface had been disturbed by 19th or 20th century construction on the site.  As for the southern half of the garden, Little found the soils in that area to have been too heavily disturbed by the construction of Carvel Hall to produce any meaningful information.

Based on analysis of the core drillings, Little was able to produce a contour map identifying the original grade of the William Paca Garden (Little, March 1967). Glenn Little suggests the 18th - century surface was designed as a terraced garden sloping in a south- north direction from the William Paca House toward King George Street. Additional evidence of the terraced garden was also found during the excavation of trenches along the east and west sides of the garden area were evidence of original walls were unearthed.

During the excavation of trenches 7, 14, 24, 30, 34, and 49, evidence of an artificial brick stream was found within the 18th century surface of the historic garden. Located fifteen feet from the base of the third fall, the stream runs in an eastward direction to a distance of 25 feet from the east wall (Little, November 1967).

Remains of a structure was unearthed during the excavation of the artificial brick stream in trench 49. While excavating the brick stream, Little uncovered the foundations of a structure in the northeast corner of the garden. Excavation of trench 49 did reveal an underground drain running through the excavated portions of the foundation. According to a letter written by Glenn Little on December 5, 1967, a drainage system for the garden was being installed during the excavation of the bathhouse foundation. As a result, Little was unable to fully excavate the structure in the time allotted to him. The canal measured about 2 feet wide and 10 feet long. It extended in an west-east direction with the eastern portion of the drain veering to the southeast toward the artificial brick stream. Little concluded that the foundations and canal could be the remains of the bathhouse mentioned in the site's historical documentation.


The 1968 Excavations

On August 1, 1968, Glenn Little and Contract Archaeology Inc. began the second phase of archaeological testing at the William Paca Garden. A series of 22 trenches were placed throughout the lower garden area beginning at the third fall and extending to the north garden wall along King George Street. The purpose of the excavation was to conduct additional analysis of the drain features identified during the 1967 excavation as well as to attempt to determine the historic locations of the pavilion and springhouse.

Through the course of the 1967 excavation a series of underground square brick pipes were found running in a west to east direction along the base of the fourth fall. Although during the previous excavation Little was unable to unearth the full extent of the drains, he believed they may have originated somewhere along the northwest side of the garden. Little also believed the springhouse and bathhouse were located on opposite sides of the garden. The excavation of trench 49 revealed the remains of a foundation in the northeast corner of the garden. Little placed two trenches, T57 and T58, in the northwest garden area with the hope of uncovering the remains of Paca's garden springhouse.

Excavation of trench 57 revealed the foundations of a nine-foot square structure with the north wall of the structure measuring roughly 33 feet from the north garden wall. The structure consisted of a base of mortared fieldstones just below the 1780 surface level of the garden. According to Little, the fieldstones were large, creating a massive foundation for the structure (Little 1990). The stones measured roughly from .5 to 1.5 feet wide and  were cut nearly three feet into the subsoil creating a firm base for the structure.

Little concluded the structure found in trench 57 was indeed William Paca's garden springhouse. Additionally, Little deduced how the springhouse functioned during the Paca Period:

  • "- water is collected from the springhouse to the northwest and west feeder drain, underneath the collecting box and rises to the top by pressure. The force obviously provided water for the adjacent trough also, the overflow exited through the north (east) brick drain." (Little 1990).

Two trenches were excavated in and around the fourth terrace and fall, one within the fall and the other placed where Powell located structure 2. Following the examination of structure 2, Little suspected that it might have been the remains of the rear portion of the summerhouse foundation. He further hypothesized that the foundations of the summerhouse may not have been as substantial as that of the bathhouse or springhouse. While both the springhouse and bathhouse were constructed entirely of stone and brick, it is possible that only brickwork was used in the construction of the summerhouse floor. The remainder of the structure may have consisted of wood with plaster walls, and may have been more susceptible to deterioration.

During the excavations along the north wall, Little found that a gate opening was cut through the wall directly behind structure 2. A late 19th - century photograph of the garden taken from the State House dome further supports the existence of the gate. Given that a gate may have existed in the north garden wall directly behind the summerhouse, the summerhouse would have prevented clear direct access in and out of the garden for pedestrians and wagons. Little further believed constant foot and cart traffic coming in and out of the gate must have destroyed most of the structure's remaining foundations (Eareckson 1977).

The 1975 Orr Excavation of the Garden

In the spring of 1975, Historic Annapolis, Inc. sought to conduct further archaeological testing on the William Paca Garden. Historic Annapolis thought additional testing in and around the reconstructed springhouse and summerhouse sites would provide information regarding their design. Previous excavations conducted by Glenn Little provided Historic Annapolis with the location of the springhouse; however, they remained uncertain about the interior design of the structure. In addition, Historic Annapolis was not convinced of the exact location of the summerhouse seen in the 1772 Charles Willson Peale portrait of William Paca. Historic Annapolis, Inc. contracted with Dr. Kenneth Orr and Ronald Orr to carry out the fourth phase of garden excavation in order to answer these questions. The archaeological investigations by the Orrs included excavation of the lower garden area, analysis of previous digs, and consultation with Orin M. Bullock, Jr., the architect in charge of reconstructing the garden outbuildings (Orr 1975). The excavations were carried out from March 19th through April 15th 1975.


The purpose of the 1975 excavation was to uncover the remains of the springhouse interior prior to its reconstruction (Orr and Orr 1975). The exterior of the structure had already been reconstructed following the Glenn Little excavations. The reconstructed springhouse consisted of a 9-foot square structure with a pyramidal roof, similar to appearance of the bathhouse in the Peale portrait. 

The Orrs located the historic interior surface of the structure (identified by the Orrs in their report as floor 1). According to their report, the basin and trough feature were clearly identifiable as outlined pools of mud. While none of the wood lining described by Little was present, the wooden stakes used to support the boards were still visible. 

Close examination of the trough, basin, and surrounding bricks led Kenneth and Ronald Orr to determine initially that the trough and basin feature were not constructed with the historic, or Paca period, floor. According to their report, the bricks immediately surrounding the trough and basin were aligned in a non-conforming manner, suggesting the features cut through the historic floor rather than having been built contemporary with it (Orr and Orr 1975). Their excavation also found that the bricks to the east of the trough were set in a uniform manner to run to a drain located in the northeastern side of the springhouse. Their resulting interpretation was that while the trough and basin features may not have been contemporary with the Paca period, the northeastern drain was, keeping the spring water below the level of the historic surface. 

 The brick floor found during the excavation of the 19th century level was constructed when Paca occupied the site. According to the Orrs, the bricks making up the historic floor were identical to those that were used in construction of the original walls of the springhouse (Orr and Orr 1975). Directly below the same area, the Orrs unearthed a level of fieldstones directly below the bricks, possibly used to serve as the building's base. A level of mud was identified to the north of the fieldstones. Excavation of this strata revealed a second catchment basin constructed of brick and foundation stones located at an elevation of 3.17 feet. During the process of excavating the basin, the Orrs unearthed a bottle base fragment made of dark glass with a conical hollow base and globular body (Orr and Orr 1975). Examination of the artifact dated it to the 18th century. According to their report, the Orrs determined that this lower basin was constructed and utilized during the William Paca period. Further investigation shows water from the natural spring ran into the basin from the north of the feature. Once collected, water then flowed out of the springhouse through the drain at the south east of the structure.

Directly below the same area, the Orrs unearthed a level of fieldstones directly below the bricks, possibly used to serve as the building's base. A level of mud was identified to the north of the fieldstones. Excavation of this strata revealed a second catchment basin constructed of brick and foundation stones located at an elevation of 3.17 feet. During the process of excavating the basin, the Orrs unearthed a bottle base fragment made of dark glass with a conical hollow base and globular body (Orr and Orr 1975). Examination of the artifact dated it to the 18th century. According to their report, the Orrs determined that this lower basin was constructed and utilized during the William Paca period. Further investigation shows water from the natural spring ran into the basin from the north of the feature. Once collected, water then flowed out of the springhouse through the drain at the south east of the structure.

The Orrs first goal was to locate the feature Powell called Structure 2. Once the Orrs rediscovered Structure 2, they noticed the feature had been reduced from 5-6 brick courses down to three, with some bricks dislodged in the structure and others scattered around the base of the trench. The base of structure 2 was found to be at an elevation of 6.31 feet above sea level. Examination of structure 2 revealed additional information not identified during Bruce Powell’s excavation in 1966. According to Powell's report, structure 2 was a rectangular feature composed of mortared brick. Additionally, on the northern area of the structure, an 8-½ inch semicircular hole was found to run through the feature originating at the top of the structure and running down through the base. During the examination of the feature, the Orrs found an unexcavated posthole at the base of the semicircular hole. The hole was rectangular in shape roughly two to three inches in length. Inside the post, several pieces of wood, 3-5 inches in length, were recovered. Kenneth and Ronald Orr suggest that the pole would have served as a supporting timber for the summerhouse.

Reconstruction of the William Paca Garden

Between 1967 and 1968, Laurance Brigham began the first design for the restored William Paca Garden. At that time, the findings from the Powell excavations were available to Brigham. Contract Archaeology supplied Brigham with charts and oral consultations based on Glenn Little's first phase of excavations in 1967 (Wright 1973). With all available archaeological information at his disposal, Brigham was aware of the locations of the bathhouse, artificial brick stream, and pond.

The first garden design was completed in February 1968.  Brigham proposed:

  • "- the garden to be quite formal in character and design; the accustomed center walk or 'Grand Allee' that led to the focal point of the walk, which was usually at the rear of the garden, will be the general theme of the plan." (Wright 1976).

The initial plan called for the central walk to be constructed on axis with the house. The main garden area was to extend the length of the property, while the width only extended from the end of the east wing to the end of the west wing. The remaining area along the eastern side of the garden proposed to be segmented into several smaller informal gardens. Shortly after the completion of the first design, Brigham was informed that it was archaeologically determined, through topographical analysis, the central walkway was on axis with the kitchen or east hyphen and not with the center of the house. Brigham designed a new plan according to the archaeological findings. The second plan, completed in 1969, carried the names of both Laurance Brigham and Contract Archaeology, showing that the plan was a joint decision between architect and archaeologist (Wright 1973). The plan called for the construction of a terraced garden in the south portion of the property to be partially conjectural. As for the north portion of the garden, the abundance of historical and archaeological information available suggested Paca once had a wilderness style garden in the area closest to King George Street.

The foundation of Carvel Hall Hotel occupied roughly 7/8 of the top two terraces. Because of the hotel's intrusion into the historic soil levels, archaeological evidence regarding the area's original design was lacking. Historical research also did not provide many clues as to how Paca organized the upper garden. The 1884 Frank Mayer sketch and a photograph taken prior to the construction of Carvel Hall show the southern most portion of the garden. Both provide evidence that a terrace existed directly behind the house. The discovery of several sections of sloping walls also indicated the locations of the two additional terraces. In addition, the Mayer Sketch depicts a central pathway originating behind the kitchen and running down the middle of the garden property, a central path that was verified by the archaeological investigation.

As one can observe today, Laurance Brigham took the historical and archaeological information regarding the upper garden to heart. The central path was aligned with the rear of the kitchen and extended down the three terraces splitting the garden into two equal halves. Aside from this, the remaining surface aspects of the upper garden are conjectural.


The parterres designed by Laurance Brigham for the terraces occupying the upper garden are conjectural (Wright 1973). Brigham's decision to include parterres was based on their being typical for the period. Both the archaeology conducted in the garden as well as the historical documentation fail to suggest that Paca once had parterres on either side of the central walk. In addition both the 1884 Mayer drawing and the 19th century photograph show the terrace to be bare.

Although archaeology played a role in the restoration of portions of the upper garden, it was most significant during restoration of the area below the third fall. The reconstruction of the lower garden was based almost entirely on the information gathered during the Bruce Powell and Glenn Little excavations. Aside from the archaeological evidence, the only other document that provides any indication of the  original design of Paca's lower garden is the Peale portrait. Looking at the Charles Wilson Peale portrait of William Paca, one can see a two-story summerhouse and a one-story brick structure in the background. Closer examination of the painting also reveals a Chippendale bridge spanning a pond. While they are clearly visible in the painting, Laurance Brigham and the Garden Committee were not entirely certain of their actual location in the garden area aside from their being adjacent to the north garden wall.


The archaeological work conducted in the lower third of the garden found much of the original Paca landscape to be intact. Glenn Little's excavation of the garden in 1967 provided Laurance Brigham and Orin Bullock with the exact location of many of the original garden features: the springhouse, the summerhouse, the bathhouse, the pond, as well as numerous artificial drains and streams.

In order to restore the original surface grade of the lower garden, Laurance Brigham used the wall foundations discovered by Powell and Little as a guide. At the base of the third fall, the east and west garden walls appeared to level out and extend north for about 80 feet at which point the grade of the walls sloped up. Using the archaeological information, Brigham designed the lower garden to include a fourth fall and terrace adjacent to the north wall. The ground between the third and fourth fall was brought down to the 18th century surface level and a fish-shaped pond was constructed according to the contours found during Glenn Little's excavations in 1967-68. 

At the base of the third fall, the artificial brick stream was restored based on the information provided by Contract Archaeology. Brigham ran into some difficulties when trying to make the brick stream functional. At some point in the 19th century, the water from a spring located behind the west wall arch was diverted through underground culverts into the Annapolis drain system. In order to restore the flow of water back through the garden, pipes were attached from the culverts through the restored arch.

Following the restoration of the garden surfaces, Orin Bullock began reconstruction of the three garden outbuildings. During Glenn Little's excavations, the foundations of both the springhouse and bathhouse were unearthed. In 1975, Kenneth and Ronald Orr's archaeological investigation revealed the possible location of the garden’s summerhouse as well as provided additional evidence regarding the interior design of the springhouse.

Bullock's design of the restored springhouse and bathhouse is based on the archaeological remains of the original structures as well as the portrait by Charles Wilson Peale. The dimensions of both restored structures measure 9 feet square and were constructed using materials similar to those found during the excavations. In order to preserve the original foundations of both buildings, concrete bases were built around the corners of the historic walls. The new structures were then built upon these bases, leaving the archaeological remains untouched and preserved (Eareckson 1977). Bullock based the interior design of the restored springhouse on the information gathered during the Orr excavations. Bullock's decision to make the structures one story in height with a pyramidal style roof was based on the evidence of a similar structure in the Charles Wilson Peale painting.

The final outbuilding to be restored at the garden was the pavilion, or summerhouse. Not until the conclusion of the Orr excavations in 1975 was Bullock or the Garden Committee convinced of the structure's original location. During both the Powell and Little excavations, a feature was unearthed directly in line with the central walkway on top of the fourth terrace. In 1975 the same feature was unearthed once again and examined. Bullock determined that it was a remnant of the original summerhouse.

Little of the original foundation of the structure remained through to the 20th century. As a result, Bullock based his design of the summerhouse on the Peale portrait. The building was restored as a two-story structure with an octagonal roof. The restored structure also included a statue of the god Mercury as to correspond with the Peale painting. The placement of Mercury was further supported by 18th century literature. Batty Langley suggests in his book, New Principles in Gardening (1728):

  • "For private cabinets in a Wilderness or Grove: Harpocrates God, and Agerona Goddess of Silence, Mercury God of Eloquence."


In his book, Langley provides a variety of suggestions on how gentlemen of the time should decorate their garden. Langley offers suggestions for thirteen types of gardens with each style given specific ornamentation. Mercury is the only suggestion for wilderness-style gardens.

The restored William Paca Garden was made complete with the addition of garden decorations and vegetation. A Chippendale style bridge was constructed across the fish-shaped pond. It was placed in accordance with the cobble foundations found during Little's archaeological investigations of the area. The architectural style of the bridge was based directly on the evidence from the Peale portrait and from the stair rails in the Paca House.


The placement and types of plants used in the garden were purely conjectural on the part of Laurance Brigham. There was no archaeological evidence that could determine how Paca planted his garden. As a result, Brigham turned to designs typical to the 18th century. Langley (1728) states:

  • "That walks of a wilderness be so placed as to respect the best views of the Country."


  • "That such walks whos views cannot be extended, terminate in Woods, Forefts, misshapen Rocks, strange Precipices, Mountains, old Ruins, grand Buildings, etc"


The problem Brigham faced was that in Paca's day the view would have overlooked the Severn River. However, today the view is of the Naval Academy. To correct this, Brigham decided to plant out the view of the academy with trees and shrubs.  In doing so he used Langley's gardening principle of making the summerhouse and pond the terminating view. Furthermore, this made the summerhouse the focal point of the garden much as it was during Paca's day. While Brigham felt his design would not have the same depth as Paca's original view, he believed the feeling of distance would be maintained in the way the trees were planted at the rear of the garden (Wright 1976).



The restoration of the William Paca Garden was a combined effort between restoration architects and archaeology. Using information archaeologists discovered about the historic garden, preservationists Laurance Brigham and Orin Bullock were able to reconstruct a lost landscape. For Brigham, the restored views he created were to him his most important contribution. A scholar of period gardening, Brigham was very much aware of the importance of views in 18th century gardens. The various gardening dictionaries of the period like Langley, Miller, and Leblond suggest gardens be places where the views of the participants are controlled by the landscape. This was accomplished with the creation of focal points. In the William Paca Garden the summerhouse in Paca's time and in the present serve this purpose. As Brigham described to St. Clair Wright in 1976:

"You ask me how the pond and terraces will affect the design, I can only say that the Grand Allee will lead directly to the focal points which will be the lake, and of course, the Pavilion, and these two items will be the most important features of the whole design, not to mention that these features in one garden of the Colonial period were not only different, but completely unique."

Anne Yentsch's 1982 Excavation of the William Paca Garden

In January 1982, preparations began for additional renovations of the springhouse's interior. Russell Wright projected the renovations to include a complete restoration of the interior to its 18th century appearance. The project included reopening the north drain at the east interior wall, repairs and renovations of the basin area, and repairs to the 18th century floor (Yentsch 1982). Wright presumed that during Paca's time a shallow box would have existed in the basin serving as a ledge for the storage of dairy vessels.

In order to determine if any materials from the 18th century still remained, Yentsch proposed the excavation focus on the collecting basin area. From there she expected to cut through the surface layers to be sure no earlier strata remained beneath. Prior to the March 1982 excavation, the springhouse had flooded. Russell Wright and workmen from Brown Engineering attempted to resolve the water problem. By the time excavations began the interior of the springhouse consisted of a level of mud covering the 18th century floor of the structure.

The 1982 excavation of the Springhouse interior began with the removal of a mud layer from the floor's surface. Yentsch also removed several large fieldstones that were no longer in place from the interior. Soon after excavation began, Yentsch came to realize the process was ineffective. A constant stream of water continued to pour into the springhouse from the north wall. As Yentsch's team attempted to remove mud from the basin area, the water quickly forced new deposits into the area making further excavation impossible. The mud contained a small number of 19th century artifacts: a painted tin handle, a red transfer-print rim fragment, a piece of thick white English porcelain, and pieces of thick and thin glass (Yentsch 1982). Organic fragments were also present in the mud deposit: a bone, a piece of wood, as well as numerous oyster shells. While the basin dates to the 18th century, the presence of 19th century artifacts within the feature is not surprising (Yentsch 1982). Prior to the construction of the 19th century collecting basin (discovered during the 1968 Little excavation), it would be typical for the owner to fill in the older basin. The artifacts discovered would have been included in the fill.

Using a metal rod, Yentsch continued to probe below the mud level to identify the full extent of the springhouse's 18th century floor. It quickly became apparent that the basin area’s brick floor was more extensive than Little's map suggested (Yentsch 1982). Yentsch's team discovered the solid brick floor was also located in the northwest corner of the springhouse near the west drain. This discovery is interesting due to the fact that Little's excavation of the structure in 1968 found that the floor in that area was not made of brick.

Following Yentsch's probing of the northwest corner, she turned back to her examination of the basin area. Probing of the basin provided additional information not shown in the Glenn Little drawings of the '68 springhouse excavation. First, Little found that the 18th century collecting basin extended away from the north interior wall southward. In addition Little identified the basin as remaining closer to the center of the springhouse with the basin's west side located away from the west interior wall of the springhouse. Yentsch found that Little’s dimensions for the collecting basin were inaccurate. She discovered that the west side of the basin extended all the way to the west interior wall. Also the floor of the collecting basin was not flat, as previously suspected. It was found that the basin's floor sloped upward toward the north drain located in the east side of the basin. Further probing also revealed that the basin floor closest to the springhouse's north interior wall was much deeper that the rest of the basin floor, allowing water to rapidly drain into the basin from the natural spring (Yentsch 1982). As a result of these discoveries, Yentsch concluded that while the Little drawings are helpful, for the most part they are incomplete and inaccurate.

The goal of the excavation conducted by Yentsch in 1982 was to determine whether any additional features existed within the springhouse collecting basin excavated by Little (1967-68) and the Orr's (1975). Because of to rising water levels and high mud content within the springhouse, Yentsch was unable to conduct a thorough excavation. Although Yentsch was unable to locate any new features; probing the basin area revealed some information regarding the dimensions of the structure.

Following the conclusion of her excavation, Yentsch made several recommendations to Historic Annapolis suggesting detailed profiles of the springhouse be created prior to any restoration efforts. Once 18th the century surface was thoroughly explored and detailed profiles of the area created, Yentsch believed an accurate restoration of the springhouse interior could be accomplished.

Laura Galke's 1990 Excavation of the William Paca Garden

During the summer of 1990, Historic Annapolis Foundation conducted repairs of the artificial brick stream located directly below the third fall of the William Paca Garden. These repairs provided the opportunity for archaeological investigations to be conducted in the surrounding area. During July of that year, Archaeology in Annapolis was allowed to conduct investigations to enhance the previous archaeological work that had taken place at the garden from 1966-1975 (Galke 1990). From July 9-14 excavations were conducted under the supervision of Laura Galke, Curator of Archaeology at Historic Annapolis Foundation. The project crew consisted of members of the University of Maryland's summer field school. 

The first goal of the excavation was to determine whether any intact 18th century surfaces had survived since earlier excavations. Bruce Powell and Glenn Little found evidence of both the 18th century surface and garden structures during the previous excavations in the area. Unlike the previous excavations, Galke did not expect to discover any evidence of additional 18th century structures; however, she anticipated that evidence of other garden activity might still be present such as planting holes and shovel divots. Three excavation units were placed within the lower terrace of the garden to explore this possibility (Galke 1990).

The second goal of the project was to form a comprehensive interpretation of the archaeology of the Paca Garden in the area around the third fall and terrace. In order to accomplish this goal, Galke intended to compare Glenn Little's 1968 profile maps with her own findings. Because of the lack of field notes about Little's year-long excavation of the garden, Galke felt such a comparison was extremely important to the project (Galke 1990). In order to accomplish this goal, Galke placed three excavation units in proximity to where Little had placed three of his trenches. Unit one was placed close to Little's trench 54; unit two near Little trench 29; and unit three near Little trench 34. If Galke were to discover at least one of the former archaeological trenches, an accurate physical relationship would be created between the current and previous excavations.  If one of Little's original trenches was not discovered, Galke could at least compare her excavated stratigraphy with the stratigraphy documented by Glenn Little in 1968.

Laura Galke's excavation of the William Paca Garden in 1990 provided valuable information regarding both the post-Paca use of the garden as well as the condition of the historical landscape following its restoration in the 1970s. Galke concluded that the excavation of the area to the south and east of the artificial brick stream contained no significant intact 18th or 19th century layers (Galke 1990). As a result of the garden restoration project, twentieth century fill now rests directly on top of sterile subsoil. To the west and north of the artificial canal, the investigation showed that the stratigraphy remains intact. Excavations in this area revealed 20th century fill episodes, the late 19th century fill episode, and finally, some evidence of an 18th century layer (Galke 1990). The excavations also provided evidence of numerous planting features found within the 19th century level. This indicates that the garden was still active during the 19th century. Galke concludes her report by stating that the excavations she carried out in 1990 suggest that much of the historic garden surface has been to a great extent destroyed by fill activity in the 19th  and 20th  centuries. However, further excavation to the north and west of the artificial stream may provide additional information regarding the 18th century topography of the garden.


Today the William Paca Garden has emerged from its past. Although once thought to be one of the grandest gardens in all of 18th century Annapolis, neglect and progress wiped the landscape from history. Historic Annapolis Foundation, recognizing the need to save the William Paca Garden, turned to the only resource capable of determining its original design, archaeology. Much of what is known of the William Paca Garden today is based on the excavations conducted from 1966 to 1975.

The archaeology conducted by Bruce Powell, Glenn Little, Kenneth and Ronald Orr, Anne Yentsch and Laura Galke revealed a landscape previously unknown to contemporary Annapolis. Prior to the work they did, little was known about Paca's garden landscape save a small number of historical documents alluding to its existence. The 1966 Powell excavations provided evidence of the brick wall surrounding the garden. Following Powell, Glenn Little was able to determine how the garden landscape was designed during Paca's time. From 1967 to 1968 Little found evidence of the original grade as well as a number of structures and features that Paca had constructed on the property such as the springhouse, pond, brick stream, and underground drainage.

Additional excavations conducted by the Orrs in 1975 revealed the existence of a summerhouse located in the rear of the garden as well as the interior design of the property's springhouse. Anne Yentsch and Laura Galke's excavations in 1983 and 1990, respectively, aided in corroborating the previous excavations as well as supplied additional archaeological information regarding Paca's historic garden.

Using the information provided by the archaeologists in conjunction with a variety of 18th century gardening dictionaries, historical portraits, photographs, and archival records, Laurance Brigham and Orin Bullock restored the garden to the landscape Paca originally built two centuries before. The carefully executed restoration of the William Paca Garden is of great historical and cultural importance to the City of Annapolis. Although several historic gardens remain in Annapolis to this day, the William Paca Garden is the only landscape resembling its original design. As a result, the garden serves as an important example of the city's past to all who view it. 

Brigham, Laurance

  • 1967        Letter to St. Clair Wright.  Manuscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.

Cuddy, Thomas W.

  • 2002        Perspective in the Paca Garden.  Manuscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.

Eareckson, Lee Anne

  • 1977        The Restoration & Preservation of the William Paca Garden.  Manuscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis Maryland.

Galke, Laura J.

  • 1990        Paca Garden Archaeological Testing, 18AP01.  Submitted to the Maryland Historical Trust.

Grovermann, William F.

  • 1973        Letter to Richard Kearns, March 13, 1973.  Manuscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.

Historic Annapolis Foundation

  • 1967        Brief Summery of the Plans for Governor Paca’s Gardens.  Manuscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.
  • 2002        William Paca Garden.  Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis.

Langley, Batty

  • 1726        New Principles of Gardening.  Bettsworth and Batley, London.

Le Blond, Alexandre

  • 1722        The Theory and Practice of Gardening. John James, London.

Leone, Mark P.

  • 1984        Interpreting Ideology in Historical Archaeology:  Using the Rules of Perspective in the William Paca Garden in Annapolis, Maryland.  Ideology, Representation and Power in Prehistory, Tilley, C. and D. Miller, editors, pp. 25-35.  Cambridge University Press.  Reprinted in Readings in Historical Archaelogy, edited by Charles E. Orser, Jr. Alta Mira Press/Sage Publications, 1996.
  • 1987        Rule by Ostentation:  The Relationship Between Space and Sight in Eighteenth Century Landscape Architecture in the Chesapeake Region of Maryland.  Method and Theory for Activity Area Research:  An Ethnoarchaeological Approach, Kent, Susan, editor, pp. 604-633.  Columbia University Press.
  • 1988        The Relationship Between Archaeological Data and the Documentary Record: Eighteenth-Century Gardens in Annapolis, Maryland.   Historical Archaeology 22(1)29-35.
  • 1989        Issues in Historic Landscapes and Gardens.   Historical Archaeology 23(1): 45-47.

Leone, Mark P. and Shackel, Paul A.

  • 1987        Perspective on an 18th Century Garden.  Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis.
  • 1990        Plane and Solid Geometry in Colonial Gardens in Annapolis, Maryland, with Paul A. Shackel.  Earth Patterns, Kelso, William and Rachel Most, editors, pp. 153-167. University of Virginia Press.

Little, J. Glenn

  • 1967        Letter to J.M.P. Wright, January 26, 1967. Letter on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.
  • 1967        Letter to J.M.P. Wright, March 19, 1967.  Letter on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.
  • 1967        Botanical Analysis of the William Paca Garden.  Manuscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.
  • 1967        Letter to Mrs. Charles W. Williams Regarding Archaeological Research on the Paca Garden, November 8, 1967.  Letter on file, Manuscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.
  • 1967        Letter to J.M.P. Wright, December 5, 1967.  Letter on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.
  • 1973        Notes Taken at Meeting with Glenn Little on May 21, 1973.  Manuscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.
  • 1974        Archaeological Drawings of the William Paca Garden.  Drawings on file, Maryland Historic Trust, Crownsville, Maryland.
  • 1974        Letter to William F. Grovermann, May 30, 1974. Letter on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.
  • 1990        Taped Interview With J. Glenn Little II.  Manuscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.

Maryland Historical Trust

  • 1966        Brief Summery of the Plans for Governor Paca’s Gardens.  Manscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.

Miller, Philip

  • 1748        The Gardener’s Dictionary.  C. Rivington, London.

Orr, Kenneth

  • 1975        Letter to J.M.P. Wright, March 20, 1975.  Letter on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.

Orr, Kenneth and Orr, Ronald

  • 1975        The Archaeological Situation at the William Paca Garden, Annapolis, Maryland: The Springhouse and the Presumed Pavilion House Site.  Manuscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.

Paca-Steele, Barbara

  • 1987        The Mathematics of an Eighteenth-Century Wilderness Garden.  Journal of Garden History 6(4): 299-320.

Powell, Bruce

  • 1966        Archaeological Investigation of the Paca House Garden, Annapolis, Maryland. Manuscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.

Riley, Elihu

  • 1887        The Ancient City: A History of Annapolis, in Maryland, 1649-1887.  Record Printing Office, Annapolis.

Russo, Jean B.

  • 1999        William Paca’s Education: The Making of an Eighteenth-Century Gentleman and American Patriot.  Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis.
  • 2000        A Question of Reputation.  Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis.

South, Stanley

  • 1967        Letter to Glenn Little. Manuscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.
  • 1967        The Paca House, Annapolis, Maryland.  Contract Archaeology Inc., Alexandria, Virginia.

Wollon. James T.

  • 1967        Letter to St Clair Wright January 26, 1967. Manuscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.

Wright, St. Clair

  • 1967        Development of the Paca House Gardens – for the Maryland Historical Trust, Progress Meeting, November 21, 1967.  Manuscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.
  • 1973        Letter to Laurance Brigham, March 19, 1973.  Letter on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.
  • 1976        The Once and Future Garden of William Paca. Manuscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.

Yentsch, Anne

  • 1982       Springhouse at Paca Gardens.  Manuscript on file, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis, Maryland.

This website was prepared through an internship which is part of the Masters of Applied Anthropology degree in the Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland, College Park.  It was written in consultation with Mark Leone, Thomas Cuddy, and several staff members of Historic Annapolis Foundation. 

For a copy of the full internship report please contact the wfennie [at] anth [dot] umd [dot] edu (Department of Anthropology) at the University of Maryland, College Park

This website was written and designed by Jason P. Shellenhamer.

Figure 1 - A photograph of the William Paca Garden

Figure 2 - Photographs of the William Paca House (left) and Carvel Hall Hotel (right)  (South 1967)

Figure 3 - Portrait of William Paca by Charles Willson Peale (Maryland Historical Society)

Figure 4 - Sketch of the William Paca Garden by Frank B. Mayer (South 1967)

Figure 5 - Map of Bruce Powell's 1966 excavation of the William Paca Garden (Shellenhamer 2004)

Figure 6 - Map of Glenn Little's 1967 excavation of the William Paca Garden (Shellenhamer 2004)

Figure 7 - Map of Glenn Little's 1968 excavation of the William Paca Garden (Shellenhamer 2004)

Figure 8 - Map of Kenneth and Ronald Orr's 1975 excavation of the William Paca Garden (Shellenhamer 2004)

Figure 9 - Map of the Restored William Paca Garden and the 1967 Little excavation trenches (Shellenhamer 2004)

Figure 10 - Map of the Restored William Paca Garden and the 1968 Little excavation trenches (Shellenhamer 2004)

Figure 11 - Left : Portrait of William Paca by Charles Willson Peale (Maryland Historical Society). Right:  A  version of the same portrait that provides a more  

                detailed view of the garden summerhouse and surrounding structures. (South 1967)