As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Homeschooling: Field Trip to Annapolis

One of the joys of eclectic homeschooling is the freedom to follow rabbit trails!

During the art portion of Morning Time this school year, we had learned about Rembrandt and James McNeill Whistler. (As an aside, our study of Whistler was surprisingly fun! I knew Whistler only as the painter of Whistler's Mother which I saw as austere. But Whistler himself was far from austere! Watch this documentary to learn more.) We needed to choose another artist to finish out the year. 

Our history studies have taken us to the Colonial period and we did an overview of the founding of each of the thirteen colonies. As we learned about our own state of Maryland, I remembered a book I had read with my older children about the early American portrait painter from Maryland, Charles Willson Peale. So I went to our own shelves and pulled out Painter of Patriots by Catherine Owens Peare. (I had purchased my own copy of this out-of-print biography a few years back.)

George Washington at the Battle of Princeton by Charles Willson Peale

Charles Willson Peale, prolific painter, businessman, politician, and naturalist, was born in Chestertown, Maryland. His father died when Charles was ten years old. The family moved to Annapolis, a wealthier town with a better market for his mother's beautiful embroidery work, and Peale spent the remainder of his childhood and a good portion of his adulthood there.

As we read, I began to wonder if there was not something in Annapolis that we could visit . . . perhaps a childhood home, perhaps a workplace, perhaps a public display of one of his paintings. A quick internet search led me to Hammond-Harwood House, "The Jewel of Annapolis," which has a substantial collection of Peale paintings.

So on a picture perfect May day, we enjoyed Colonial history, art history, and good eats on a visit to our state's capital, Annapolis!

Here, Bekah stands in front of Maryland's State House. Did you know that this building actually served as the capital for the brand new United States, from November 1783 to to August 1784? It is also the oldest state house in America still in continuous use.

Downtown Annapolis has beautiful brick sidewalks and streets, lovely old buildings rich with history, and charming shops and cafes.

We ate a delicious lunch at Harry Browne's (a crab cake sandwich for me, a "Capital Burger" for Ron, and a roasted chicken panini for Bekah),

with a fabulous view of the State House right outside our window!

At Hammond-Harwood House, we visited an exhibit area while waiting for our tour to begin. There were several portraits painted by Charles Willson Peale, including this one of Mr. Thomas Anderson. This is the only Peale painting that I photographed, because I didn't learn until the end of the house tour that non-flash photography was permitted.

As our tour began, the docent told us that this is one of the most photographed doors in America! The architecture of the Hammond-Harwood house is amazing, a five-part Anglo-Palladian house built in 1774. (Read ~here~ for more about the architecture and construction of the house.)

This view of the Hammond-Harwood House (not my photo) shows all five parts of the home and reveals the symmetry that is a hallmark of Anglo-Palladian architecture. 


Can you believe that these boxwoods in the back garden were planted in 1825?!

At this point, we were well into the tour. I have no pictures of the entire downstairs . . . dining room, parlor, entry, colonial floorcloth, beautiful furnishings (a large collection of John Shaw originals) and art.


My photo is fuzzy, but I love the coverlet and the fabric in these bed hangings!

Brick floors in the kitchen.

Be still my colonial heart! I love this stepback cupboard!

Back outside, our docent pointed us to something of interest. Jeremiah Loockerman apparently carved his initials in an exterior brick back in 1829!

(Hmmm . . . over 150 years later, our own son carved his pseudonym on a brick at our house! There is nothing new under the sun, I suppose.)  😁

Jeremiah Loockerman's initials, circa 1829

Ryan's pseudonym, circa 1990

After the tour, it was on to Fox Books.

F. O. X.

If you've watched You've Got Mail, you get the reference. (It's really "Old Fox Books" but we edited out the "Old" to make it fit.)

And coffee time at Brown Mustache Coffee. What a great way to end a field trip!

I love how our little rabbit trail into the life of artist Charles Willson Peale let to more "trails" of learning! We "met" other artists in the biography (Benjamin West, John Singleton Copley). We learned more about our state's colonial history. We learned about our state house. (We'd like to tour it next time around.) We learned about Andrea Palladio and Palladian architecture. We learned about John Shaw, colonial cabinet maker. We even learned a tidbit about horticulture! (Who knew that boxwoods could live for two hundred years?!)

Don't be afraid to follow rabbit trails, homeschool mom! You never know what you'll turn up!


  1. This is one of the joys of home education! Great trip!

    1. Having been on public school field trips in my pre-homeschooling days, I so much prefer a family field trip where there are fewer distractions and all of us are engaged and learning together! (Actually, for those same reasons, I prefer a family field trip even to a co-op or group field trip!)

  2. I loved your tour of the Hammond-Harwood House, Cheryl. We love Annapolis and this will give us a good reason to return as this would be of great interest to us. I didn't know that Peale paintings are featured there! The lovely rooms are furnished so beautifully. I know it made your "colonial heart" happy. That cupboard is gorgeous.
    You are so right about rabbit trails leading to places of learning. Even for folks that don't home school their children. ♥

    1. I am certain that you history-loving people will enjoy the Hammond-Harwood House! And I totally agree with you . . . following those rabbit trails are good for anyone at any age!

  3. Loved getting to go on this tour with y’all!!

  4. Ron is an interested student...rapt attention being given. What a fun day!
    Sometimes, the most intriguing things are right in our own corner. What a charming city
    Annapolis is. The bricks and architecture surprised me. Of course, any day that includes
    treats is a happy one. ☕️

    1. Ron is a history buff for sure! (He was a history major before he switched over to business for practical reasons.)

      The historic district of Annapolis is gorgeous!

  5. What a fun day! Right up my alley! I ADORE Palladian's orderliness and beauty. There's a peacefulness in its symmetry that appeals to me.

    Now you'll have to make an excursion to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and see all the works there by Peale, West, and Copley. It's American Art wing is first-rate!

  6. As a girl, I always loved a field trip day. Yours looks pretty amazing. So does your lunch! Wishing you a beautiful rest of the week... Brenda xox

    1. My lunch was so good!

      A lovely week to you too, Brenda . . . although at this point, perhaps I should wish you a lovely weekend!


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