Anne St. Clair Wright was a founder of Historic Annapolis, Inc., today the Historic Annapolis Foundation. She served four terms as president, and later as chair and chair emeritus of the Board, and chair of the William Paca Garden Restoration Committee. Her leadership and influence greatly impacted the historic preservation movement in Annapolis and other historic towns and cities, for which she received numerous awards and recognition. The Anne St. Clair Wright papers consist of materials documenting her work with Historic Annapolis, as well as her personal life and other historic preservation interests. These materials include memos and correspondence, minutes and agendas, reports, research notes, administrative and financial files, writings, historic site files, photographs, publications, and newspaper clippings.
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The Anne St. Clair Wright papers consist of materials that document Wright’s career with Historic Annapolis, Inc. (now Historic Annapolis Foundation), a prominent historic preservation group in Annapolis that she helped found in 1952, as well as her work in other private and public sectors. The collection dates from 1952 to 1994, with the bulk of the material dating between 1978 and 1993. These materials include memos and correspondence, minutes and agendas, writings, research materials and notes, historic site files (William Pace House and Gardens, Brice House, Calvert Site, Clark’s Pond, Hancock’s Resolution, Morven, Reynold’s Tavern, Shiplap House), legal and legislative items, publications, newspaper clippings, lecture notes, reports, brochures and pamphlets, photographs, drawings, maps, memorabilia, and personal records. Series 5 consists of materials related to the archaeological work of Anne Yentsch and Mark Leone with Historic Annapolis. Documenting the history and development of the historic preservation movement in Annapolis in the latter half of the 20th century, the collection offers a perspective on the administrative, legal, and historic evolution of a prominent historic preservation program under Wright’s leadership.
Anne St. Clair Wright was born in 1910 in Newport News, Virginia. As a child of a Navy family, she spent her youth in many different countries. She first came to Annapolis in 1912 and stayed there until 1914, when the family began a long period of traveling. After high school in North Carolina, Wright attended Mary Baldwin College in Virginia and received a B.A. from the Maryland Institute of Fine Arts in Baltimore in 1932. She married Navy Captain Joseph Martin Pickett Wright in 1932 in Panama and permanently settled in Annapolis in 1953 when Captain Wright retired from the Navy.
As a leading founder of Historic Annapolis, Inc. in 1952 (now Historic Annapolis Foundation), she was the first to advocate for the preservation of an entire historic district instead of a specific historic property or site. As a result of Wright’s activism, downtown Annapolis was designated as a Historic District and a Registered National Landmark by Stewart Udall, secretary of the interior, in 1965. Under Wright’s leadership, Historic Annapolis was able to restore more than 30 buildings of all types, from the mansions of the elite to the homes and businesses of common citizens, throughout the eighteenth-century core of the city. Her work with Historic Annapolis set important precedents for other preservationists interested in saving streetscapes, towns, and historic communities.
Wright devoted much of her work with Historic Annapolis to beautifying and preserving the historic landscape of the town. Her largest garden project was the archaeological excavation and restoration of the private garden of William Paca, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. She also managed the restoration of the William Paca House, the keystone project of Historic Annapolis, which began in 1970 with the aid of state and federal funding and private monies raised by Wright. Her other historic building projects in Annapolis included Brice House, Calvert Site, Clark’s Pond, Hancock’s Resolution, Jonas Green House, Reynold’s Tavern, Shiplap House, and many others.
Wright held numerous civic volunteer offices throughout her life, including: advisor for Maryland, National Trust for Historic Preservation; commissioner, Maryland Commission on the Capital City; director, Society for the Preservation of Maryland Antiquities; chairman of the Board, Preservation Action; member, Mid-Atlantic Regional Advisory Committee of the U.S. National Park Service; member, Committee of Twenty to establish goals and programs for the National Trust for Historic Preservation; director, Nature Conservancy; trustee, Maryland Environmental Trust; director, Southern Garden History Society; member at large, Garden Club of America; and member, Governor's Maryland Scenic Beauty Commission.
Wright’s pivotal contributions to historic preservation in Annapolis earned her national recognition for her dedication and activism in the field. She received many awards during her lifetime, including a citation for service in preservation by the Maryland House of Delegates and a distinguished citizen award by Maryland Governor, J. Millard Tawes, both in 1965; the Louise DuPont Crowninshield Award in 1968; an honorary doctoral degree from Towson State University in 1975 (one of the first in the nation for Preservation); Woman of the Year award in 1975 by the Maryland Colonial Society; an honorary degree as a doctor of public service from the University of Maryland in 1985; the Phoenix Award from the American Society of Travel Writers in 1985; in 1992 Family Circle Magazine featured her as one of the “Women Who Make A Difference.” In 1997, four years after Wright’s death, the University of Maryland established a graduate scholarship in Historic Preservation in her name. Wright’s passion for historic preservation is remembered annually at the St. Clair Wright Lecture Series held in Annapolis each spring.
The collection is organized as six series.
The Wright family donated the papers of Anne St. Clair Wright to the University of Maryland Libraries in 2000.
There was no particular arrangement to the collection when it was received except that files were loosely grouped into broad chronological files. Therefore, the final arrangement of the papers of Anne St. Clair Wright was largely determined by the processing archivist. Series were created that reflect the subject matter and format of material. Of particular note is the existence of memos and correspondence files throughout the collection. Memos and Correspondence were kept with the originating organization or activity.
Oversize materials have been removed to a mapcase or oversize boxes. A separation sheet has been placed in the original location of each item removed. Newsprint clippings have been photocopied onto acid-free paper and the original newsprint discarded. Rubber bands and metal fasteners have been removed and replaced with plastic clips.