The National Trust for Historic Preservation named the historic city of Annapolis one of its National Treasures. Annapolis was selected as a National Treasure because of its irreplaceable historic and cultural significance, as well as for the steps Annapolis is taking to protect its historic structures from the threat of increased flooding and severe weather events.
Annapolis is one of the oldest cities in the country and contains the largest collection of 18th century structures of any American city. When the Department of the Interior named the city a National Historic Landmark in 1965, it noted that historic Annapolis represents, “virtually every residential architectural style from the early 18th century through to the first third of the 20th century.”
Today, the coastal city faces a double threat of sinking land and rising water levels due to global sea-level rise. The combined threat has caused the Chesapeake Bay area to have some of the highest rates of relative sea-level rise in the U.S., leaving Annapolis vulnerable to nuisance flooding and an increased number of and severity of storms.
In response to this threat, the city of Annapolis is preparing a Cultural Resource Hazard Mitigation Plan for the Annapolis Historic District to help mitigate the impacts of flooding and other weather-related events on the city’s historic places. The plan will allow the city to establish a framework to enhance the protection of resources that are currently vulnerable to weather effects. Results of this planning will ensure the economic viability and historic character of the city, while sustaining the heritage tourism economy.
“Our partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation showcases a model planning project that will benefit other historic seaports and help Chesapeake Bay municipalities build resilient, flood-prepared communities,” Annapolis Mayor Michael Pantelides said.
In naming Annapolis a National Treasure, the National Trust is committed to supporting the city’s hazard mitigation planning efforts by providing direct technical and grant assistance. In 2013, the National Trust awarded the City of Annapolis a $25,000 grant to assist with its disaster mitigation planning work. Today, the Trust is presenting the Main Streets Annapolis Partnership with a $5,000 grant to contribute to their public outreach and awareness initiatives to help educate property and business owners on flood mitigation strategies.
“The National Trust is proud to name Annapolis to its portfolio of National Treasures,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Annapolis is one of America’s most beloved and visited historic communities. Though the threat of rising sea levels remains, city leaders and local partners already have created a national model, demonstrating how other cities can plan to minimize the negative effects of climate change on historic buildings. We look forward to working alongside the City of Annapolis and others to raise awareness of the unique threats to cultural resources posed by climate change, and sharing these valuable lessons with other historic communities across the country.”
Maryland State Senator John Astle, Maryland Speaker of the House Michael Busch, Annapolis Mayor Michael Pantelides, and President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Stephanie Meeks spoke at the event. Annapolis Aldermen Joe Budge and Ross Arnett were also in attendance.
As the presenting partner of the National Treasures program, American Express has pledged $2 million to help promote and enable the preservation of these cultural and historic places.